Ricciardo is the only Australian on the Formula 1 grid for 2018, and told Aussie outlets during a press conference this week that a Holden Commodore without eight cylinders under the bonnet was “certainly not what I am used to”.
“However, I understand the reasons, or I think I understand the reasons why the V8 had to go,” he said.
The 28-year-old Red Bull Racing star said the loss of the V8 engine from the Commodore range would be hardest felt by enthusiasts of his age and older, while younger generations could be more accepting of the change.
“It is not what we are used to, for our generation and anything before us, I don’t think we’ll like the new V6 as much the V8,” he said. “It’ll probably take the next generation that doesn’t know any different to then start really accepting it like we accept the V8.”
Ricciardo joked about childhood memories of hanging out with mates who drove V8-powered Commodores, and how the engine and car became inextricably linked for him.
“When I think of Commodore, I think of V8s, and if a mate had a Commodore when you were a kid, you’d hear him from four streets away,” he said. “You knew when he was coming, he didn’t have to call you when he was out the front. The V8 is going to be missed, but I think the cool thing is the ones that are still around will certainly be appreciated.”
Ricciardo said Aston Martin’s current range of engines – the British luxury sports car maker is the title sponsor of Red Bull Racing this year – was part of the brand’s popularity with owners.
“I think people appreciate that they are still building V8 and V12 engines – people love that,” he said.
Formula 1 lost its screaming naturally aspirated V8 engines in favour for muffled turbocharged hybrid V6 units at the start of the 2014 season. Holden, meanwhile, built its last V8-engined Commodore in October last year, and now only offers a normally aspirated V6 as the sole performance variant in the range.
Ricciardo also said the loss of V8s from Formula One was not a positive move for the sport. “You associate the loud noise with the racing,” he said. “I remember as a kid, flying to Melbourne, you’d get to your hotel, and Friday practise would be on and you could hear the cars from the hotel. That would give you goosebumps.”
“When I got into F1, and we had the V8 engines, and they would scream. You would sit in the garage, and the mechanic would tell you to go out, and I’d start the car, and it would roar. That noise, as a young kid getting into F1, was a bit intimidating,” he said.
“Now they start the engine up, and it is no louder than a road car. I think even for rookies coming to F1, the gap is bridged, because that intimidation from the noise is less. As a fan and spectator, if you pay good money to get to a race and watch it live, I think part of that is hearing that roar.”
It seems unlikely the Holden Commodore will ever be sold again with a V8 engine. Formula 1, though, could return to an eight-cylinder format – depending on how proposed rule changes for 2020 turn out.
Ricciardo will take to the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit in Melbourne from tomorrow for the first round of the 2018 Formula 1 championship.