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Parallel parking, farming goals and a bromance with Lando Norris – Getting to know the real Daniel Ricciardo

Staff Writer

Mike Seymour
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Following on from Yuki Tsunoda and Zhou Guanyu, it’s time for Daniel Ricciardo to experience the unusual with our quickfire interview like no other. From driving test nerves to two best friends with the same name, and spending a holiday with Lando Norris to who would feature in his dream F1 band, the RB driver shares all…

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Hmm. Fun, adventurous… I think anyone actually who describes themselves as fun is maybe… I won’t say fun. I’ll say adventurous, chilled and energetic. Chilled and energetic… that’s contradicting [laughs].

READ MORE: Fashion, tigers and Alonso’s words of wisdom – Getting to know the real Zhou Guanyu

What made you fall in love with F1?

The short answer would be fastest cars in the world, kind of thing. As a kid I was aware they were the fastest specially-built race cars and that just fascinated me. That carried a bit of an aura about it and I wanted to experience it.

Where and when did you first drive something?

Awww… I had a pedal go-kart as a kid. I reckon I would have been three years old and I remember I would put my dad’s helmet on, which was way too big and heavy for my little neck at the time, and I would go down the driveway with that. That was number 34, because that was his number, and I eventually just removed the four and that’s why I’m three!

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Ricciardo and his now trademark grin arrived in F1 midway through the 2011 season, when he debuted with Hispania

How many times did it take you to pass your driving test?

I got it the first time. I was nervous, though! The reverse parallel parking, that’s what I was most nervous about… and the hill start. But I did well, I did well. It’s an achievement. You don’t want to have to redo it!

Who’s your best friend inside the paddock?

The guy I spend most time with is Blake [my manager] and his last name is ironically Friend. I would say that’s probably an obvious one because we spend a lot of time together. Lando [Norris] is one where like, our first year at McLaren, it definitely took us a little bit of time to probably get to know each other and warm to each other a bit. It’s probably no secret that it took us a little bit to become, let’s say, mates.

WATCH: Ricciardo and Norris cause chaos in United States stop-start challenge

But Lando visited Perth and came out to my farm in January. He was travelling a bit and he was like, ‘Can I come and visit for a few days?’ I was like, ‘Sure’. It’s kind of nice just hanging out with him. To be honest, other drivers, getting a chance to hang out with them outside the track, outside this environment, it’s kind of fun, because we don’t often get a chance to do it.

Who’s your best friend outside the paddock?

Actually, it’s funny. I laugh because I’ve got two Blakes who are very close in my life. Blake who works with me and probably my best friend is Blake who I raced go-karts with…

Daniel Ricciardo's best funny moments in Formula 1

Do you call them Blake 1 and Blake 2?

Ha. He’s really tall so I’ve called them ‘Tall Blake’ and ‘Manager Blake’. But I raced go-karts with Blake so we’ve known each other since we were like nine years old and we always competed against each other for a long time. He’s always visited me, come to races, visited me when I was living in Italy and wherever I was, and remained a really close friend.

I think in those friendships it was easy for him to be like, ‘S**t, you made it, I didn’t’, and there could be like this weird kind of envy or jealousy, and he never had that, he always just stayed a really honest and true friend. We were coming up together and we were both trying to make it ultimately, and I think just the way he handled me kind of living our dream careers, that also could have made our friendship turn and it never did. I also really valued him for not letting that get in the way and we’re super-close.

READ MORE: Traffic lights, tacos and moustaches – Getting to know the real Yuki Tsunoda

Which three F1 personalities past or present would you bring to a dinner party and why?

James Hunt. You need a bit of that, I think. Definitely the less serious drivers! Lando is easy to make laugh, so I think that’s kind of fun. Laughter is important.

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Ricciardo and Norris were team mates at McLaren in 2021 and 2022 and have since formed a strong friendship

It’s a difficult question with so many to choose from… What about your team mate, Yuki Tsunoda?

Yeah… Yuki at the driver dinner was pretty funny last year, I will say that. Yuki’s good. [Valtteri] Bottas, his mullet deserves a seat at the table. Let’s go Valtteri. I feel like there’s a bit of Australian in him.

Who would make your all-time F1 dream team? That’s any two drivers and a team boss in the history of the sport…

I think Mario Andretti is one that I always admired for like doing both championships, the American stuff and the F1 stuff, being a champion. I think he was very multi-dimensional as a race car driver. I’d put him in there. Then I’d go… it’s [Ayrton] Senna or [Michael] Schumacher, I feel like they’re the obvious ones. Let’s say Schumacher, because I feel everyone will say Senna. And his technical feedback, I believe, was some of the best ever. To run the team? Eddie Jordan!

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That leads on nicely given Eddie’s musical ways… If you could form an F1 band, who would be involved and what would it be called?

The Rejects! It would be called The Rejects, for sure, because we all won’t be very good. Charles [Leclerc] would go on the piano, I know he’s getting into that. Lando was pretty handy on the drums when he did a thing with McLaren a few years ago. Yuki for like backup vocals, I feel like his Japanese harmonies could be quite nice. Who am I missing? Logan [Sargeant] being American, I feel like he must have some form of music thing in him, so let’s go Logan somewhere. And I’d be on the harmonica!

Watch: Daniel Ricciardo sending it

What’s your proudest moment in F1 so far?

Two come to mind. I think the first win is one, because it’s something you dream of. Until you do it you’re not fully, fully convinced that you can. But also Melbourne, my first year with Red Bull [in 2014], nearly getting pole, qualifying on the front row and getting second there. Okay, it got taken away [due to disqualification], but I think just kind of performing at home under the pressure, and pressure with a new team. It was like a big weight off my shoulders, so I was quite proud of that weekend.

What advice would you give to someone starting out?

The advice I give everyone, even if it’s not racing, just any sport, ultimately it’s making sure fun is the primary reason why you’re doing it. I think if it’s fun then you’re going to put all your love and soul into it, and then it could potentially lead to a career. It could lead to, yes, making money and all the other things that come with it, but it has to be born out of fun. It also can’t be your parents’ dream, it can’t be this or that, it has to be what drives you, what makes you get up every morning and enjoy doing it. Then the rest follows.

WATCH: From understeer to degradation – How to talk like an F1 driver

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

Oooh. The perfect scenario, a world title and spending more time on my farm. That would be Scenario A!

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