Courtesy of Red Bull Media Service
Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo tackle the martial art Kendo.
Red Bull Racing have found themselves right back in the fight for grand prix victories.
The driver duo were put through their paces in the discipline of Kendo (meaning ‘sword way’), which is all about discipline, respect, power and technique, perhaps the ideal preparation for a race weekend.
Dressed head to toe in Red Bull Racing-branded protective gear and wielding bamboo swords, the teammates were taught the moves before taking on opponents in a quiet part of Tokyo this week in occasionally comical fashion.
Verstappen was initially a tad anxious about being too aggressive to strike a blow in the 300-year-old martial art while Ricciardo fully embraced the traditional shouts of this form of combat.
“Kendo was cool,” he explained. “To see some of it being executed this morning was fun and then us to have a go. The first part is vocal, when strike you shout and it’s like stamping your authority and then proceeding with the physical moves. Short, sharp and powerful. I enjoyed it.”
As for the short stop in Tokyo between Sepang and Suzuka, Ricciardo said he was relishing the experience in what he branded a “unique” city.
As for the race itself, Ricciardo is hoping to continue his strong showing since the summer break, which has included three podiums in the last four races.
“Malaysia gives us hope for the high-downforce circuits,” he said. “To keep the podiums going is good – three out of four since the break. I will try to keep that going.”
While Ricciardo has been a relative model of consistency, Verstappen has endured the greater misfortune of the pair on the race track in 2017 but bounced back for his first race win of the season and his first victory since his debut race with Red Bull Racing last season.
Off the back of that latest triumph, the 20-year-old, who celebrated his birthday last weekend, said: “It was a good weekend. I think from the start we were looking pretty good and, in the race as soon as got into the lead, I could basically hold onto tyres. To win the race at the end is a great result especially with year I had. It was definitely needed.”
Suzuka is where Verstappen made his debut in an F1 car during a Friday practice session and admitted he needs precision driving to emulate another race win.
“The first sector is really fast,” he said. “It’s old school, you can’t make mistakes or end up in the gravel. But I’m looking forward to the weekend, and hopefully we can fight for the podium again.”