Daniel Ricciardo has further talked about his relation with Max Verstappen, the situation around Mercedes & Lewis Hamilton, his own future after F1.
In an interview to Square Mile, McLaren’s Ricciardo spoke more on his attitude change early in his F1 career, where he showed and convinced about his talents and what can he do to survive in the ruthless sport, where every result counts.
While he has a smile on his face but on track, he wipes off that smile on other’s faces with his performance. “When I first got to the sport, I was the happy kid,” said Ricciardo. I hadn’t really shown that ‘kill or be killed’ attitude yet. I got to a point where I didn’t really want to be the nice guy who is just there to show up. I started, let’s say, putting my balls on the line and actually, you know, pulling off some moves.
“My thought process was if I crash, then I think I’ll still be respected for having a go’. Once I was able to show that I could still be this fun guy, but when the helmet comes down, I’ll do what it takes. That was the moment I felt I earned the paddock’s respect. Yes, you do see me smiling, but this shit means a lot to me,” summed up Ricciardo.
As the Australian F1 driver noted, it is also about respect, which is very important in this business. He shares a good camaraderie with almost all of the drivers, even so Verstappen, who is equally talented and gives his teammates a run for a money.
The two matched each other nicely at Red Bull and shared a good bond eventually, which eventually carried on, as Ricciardo moved out of the team. “I think it’s easier now for me and Max to be friends for two reasons,” he said. “I think one is that obviously we’re not in direct competition – we’re not trying to basically end each other’s careers!
“The second point is that I think – I mean, of course, I won races with him as a teammate and got pole position so I think he always knew I was quick and respected me – but now, since I’ve left, the other drivers have come through and him having different teammates, I think it’s probably increased his respect for me even more.
“I mean we never hated each other, we just wanted to end each other’s careers! It’s as simple as that,” summed up Ricciardo, as he stepped into his mindset about winning and why Mercedes’ Hamilton also deserves credit, even though he has the best F1 car.
It is a very fine line situation with Hamilton. Everyone knows that he has a solid car behind him, but his talent cannot be discredited for it. “Let’s be honest, winning is the fun part,” started Ricciardo. “Winning is why we started racing or why we continued racing – because we were winning and we were being told that we’re the best. So when you don’t do it for a while, you’ve got to search for something else.
“And in that case – in a midfield team – a win is fifth place, you know, and your teammate gets tenth. That’s a win, for example. You’ve got to just re-adjust. As for the current situation with best car and best driver, to answer it diplomatically, I think Lewis isn’t the only one that could win races in that car.
“That’s obviously my opinion and I think that George Russell, in a way, showed the possibility of that by pretty much beating Valtteri [Bottas] in his first race. So you could argue that just maybe Lewis doesn’t have the strongest competition. I think, where we can’t be too aggressive or disrespectful to Lewis, is that, do a few of us believe we could beat him? Yes. I’m quite sure of that.
“But none of us have ever been in the hunt for a title. None of us have dealt with that pressure. None of us have had that year after year. Pretty much every weekend he rocks up to a race. Yes, he has the best car, but he’s also expected to win all the time. And if he doesn’t, it’s, ‘OK, what happened to Lewis?,” summed up Ricciardo.
With the Australian now in the second half of his F1 career and youngsters coming up thick and fast, it is an interesting phase for him. The topic of ‘what after F1’ has already started coming in and for Ricciardo, he seems to be on the similar path to what Hamilton has talked about, albeit, not that it is already decided.
“As much as I love the sport, and obviously it’s given me a lot, I think I’ll also equally love to escape from it once I’m done,” said Ricciardo. “I’ve poured all my heart into it and energy, so when I do say I’m done, I think I’ll be done. At least for a bit of time. I mean, it might call me back to do something at some point.
“But I just see myself just going on a massive road trip and doing something really, still adventurous, but in a different way, you know, not on a schedule. So whether it’s related around music, food or whatever, it just sounds good,” summed up Ricciardo.
Here’s Daniel Ricciardo on DTS, F1 social media and more