Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo has defended the nine men arrested in Malaysia after stripping to their budgie smugglers after his race win, saying they were "excited" but should have been "more careful".
Ricciardo broke through for his first win of the F1 season at the Sedang track on Monday. As he celebrated on the podium with a now-trademark 'shoey' drink of champagne from his racing boot, a group of Australian supporters followed suit. They poured beer into their own shoes, and stripped down to their budgie smugglers, which bore the Malaysian flag. Nine men were arrested and have been held in custody, facing charges of 'intentional insult' by breaching the peace.
Ricciardo told The Huffington Post Australia that he only heard about the incident well afterwards.
"Obviously I'm aware of it, but at the time I wasn't. There was a big sea of people below the podium," he said from Japan, where he is preparing for his next F1 race.
"At the time they thought it was a bit of harmless fun, and were enjoying the celebrations. It was a while since I won [a race] and they were excited. They didn't realise the effect it would have on the locals."
"It's a shame but they were in the moment."
Australian politicians including Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop have criticised the men, saying they should have been more respectful and aware of local laws -- "They are facing certain charges and what might be seen as a foolish prank or Aussie blokey behaviour in Australia can be seen very differently in another country," Bishop told Channel Nine on Wednesday.
Ricciardo echoed those sentiments.
"The lack of the clothing, that didn't sit that well with the locals. In Australia, maybe you could get away with it, but when you travel abroad you have to be more careful," he told HuffPost Australia.
Talking more broadly about the race, Ricciardo said he didn't have much time to celebrate as he was quickly whisked away on a plane to Japan, in preparation for the Japanese Grand Prix starting on Friday. He had "a nice dinner and a couple of drinks" to celebrate once he landed, but the drink everyone is talking about is the one he took from his boot, the latest shoey on his record after giving it a taste in August on the podium following the German Grand Prix.
He also forced Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner, and fellow drivers Max Verstappen and Nico Rosberg to down one too.
"This was definitely the sweatiest one, but it tasted good. The taste of victory was somewhere inside the sweat," he laughed.
"I think Christian and Max enjoyed it, but Rosberg didn't, from the look on his face. I didn't give them much of a choice."
"It's a little tradition, a bit of a laugh in the sport. It's a sport quite furious and formal sometimes, it's a bit of an icebreaker."
As for Japan? Ricciardo says he's confident of another podium finish.
"For me personally, it's a nice track, a traditional old-school race track. For our team and car, it's quite an aerodynamic circuit and that's where we're strong. I expect us to do well, fight for a podium," the Red Bull driver said.