Ricciardo: "A lot of respect for how Verstappen has grown"
By Adam Wills 05 August 2020 | 17:43
Daniel Ricciardo is already in his tenth season in Formula 1. The always-smiling Australian is one of the most popular drivers on the grid and has gained a plethora of valuable experiences throughout his Formula 1 career. He spoke with MaximumF1 about the life of being a Formula 1 driver, his relationship with Max Verstappen, and the role of marketing and social media in F1.
Is driving an F1 car still as exciting as in the beginning?
"That buzz is of course a bit more absent, although it remains a thrill when you get back in after every holiday. The kick when the lights go out and you are fully in competition mode. That's exciting every time, absolutely."
How would you explain that sense of speed to a layman?
(grins) "Hmm, that's a tricky one. There nothing you can really compare it to. You just have to remember that it is not an hour and a half of pure throttling. There is also a lot of patience and strategy involved. There are moments of high intensity, but there are also moments where a kind of calmness just before the moment comes when you can strike again."
Is it addictive and could you ever do without it?
"Certainly, for me the speed is what is really addictive. I can also get that speed on a motorcycle, so I can also do something like that to get my fix. But, the competition against the best drivers in the world is nothing like that and I will definitely miss it."
You often fight for a tenth or a thousandth of a second, do you feel that difference during a round?
"Absolutely, you feel that fraction very much. That one-tenth feels like a second, even a half-tenth feels like an eternity in a Formula 1 car. Not only is the speed and acceleration an intensified amount of what most people will ever experience, but also your sense of time.”
Ricciardo: "Marketing is so much more a part of it than I ever thought possible."
You share a lot on social media, but also keep a large part private. How difficult is it nowadays to determine how much you 'give' to the people?
"Very difficult. The more you keep private, the more people dig to look for things. Yet there are a lot of good things about social media. It gives your fans a glimpse into your life and in this way they get to know you and hopefully appreciate you. I think it is important that you know who you support, regardless of the color of his helmet. I think I show a lot, outside of family things and relationships. If certain people are curious about that, they will still be able to find out, but I think it is unnecessary to advertise more than what is necessary."
Decline is inevitable in a sports career, how do you keep yourself motivated during those moments?
"By surrendering to some degree to that setback. That is sometimes allowed. Then you analyze what exactly went wrong and why. Then you do something about it and use that - temporary - 'weakness' in your luggage to make sure you never get to that point again."
What is your opinion on the current state of F1?
"In my opinion, we are doing quite well. There is always the hope for more teams to have the opportunity to compete for a win. To level the playing field. There is always room for improvement, but in general we are heading in the right direction. I look forward to the changes in 2022 that will hopefully make the sport even better and fairer."
As a Dutchman, we cannot escape the Max question. How did you experience the growth of Verstappen?
"I was able to experience his development for a long time as his teammate and I still get along well with him now. His growth is beautiful to see. I have great respect for how he has grown in the past 12 to 18 months. From his hot-headedness and the amount of mistakes he used to make to the driver he is now. He is now an even more elite and complete driver and I can't wait for our roads to cross again on the track and we can start battling again. There will be quite some discussions after races, but we are mature and I think our respect for one another will always prevail." Ricciardo and Verstappen together formed a golden duo at Red Bull Racing.
What is your ambition for the coming years?
"Become world champion. That has always been my ambition and I am sure I can become one in the coming years."
What is the first thing you learned about the Formula 1 world?
"The marketing and how much you do outside of driving. Formula 1 is a beast of a business. Marketing is so much more a part than I ever thought possible. Sometimes you have the feeling that you just want to drive but are always busy with the marketing side. That's part of it, but it surprised me."
And the best and worst advice you've ever received?
"Have fun. It is cliché and very basic, but the core truth behind it is what is important. I am very lucky that I can do this work and, although I have to be focused and continue to work hard, I also have to have fun. You should never forget that you have made your dream come true to become an F1 driver. And the worst advice I ever received was from Nick Heidfeld in 2006 at a meeting with Formula BMW Junior drivers. "Drive fast," he said. That sounds nice, but that alone is not enough, I can tell you, and will result in more than one crash." (Photos: Red Bull Content Pool / Getty Images)
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