“1,000% The Best Thing For Me”: Daniel Ricciardo On Returning To Red Bull
(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
— Updated on 20 June 2023

“1,000% The Best Thing For Me”: Daniel Ricciardo On Returning To Red Bull

— Updated on 20 June 2023
Garry Lu
Garry Lu

On the ground at Albert Park, Melbourne: BH’s Daniel Ricciardo Interview (2023)

I’m completely flustered by the time I step into the Red Bull Racing tent at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

I’d barely made my allotted interview time after entering from the wrong gate (my fault), sprinting through all the chaos and congestion of the Fan Zone in a fashion that would’ve undoubtedly pissed off a few punters.

And just seconds ago, Team Principal Christian Horner stared daggers in my direction, probably because I was gawking like a slack-jawed yokel (also my fault).

But the moment I was herded towards the famously affable presence of Australia’s own Daniel Ricciardo, it was as if all was right with the world. There’s an almost familiar charm followed by a relaxed calm.

The Red Bull fostered Formula 1 talent and current reserve driver was stationed at a corner table, dutifully meeting his media obligations and signing whatever paraphernalia PR employees would shove in his face.

“All good… how are you?” the eight-time grand prix winner greets me with a smile as some autographed almanacs are hurriedly taken away; I reply with something innocuous and entirely immemorable.

“I’ve actually been holding in a piss for a while,” he admits, to which I insist he takes a bathroom break before we start.

RELATED: No, Daniel Ricciardo Isn’t Replacing Nyck De Vries At AlphaTauri

After a minor bit of back and forth, Ricciardo decides to play on.

“I won’t hold ya. You can add that to the article: Daniel held in.”

Between stepping back on native soil and his return to Red Bull Racing after famously unfortunate (and extremely profitable) stints at Renault then McLaren Racing – the latter of which culminated in a rather unceremonious and widely-criticised contract termination to make way for compatriot Oscar Piastri – this was indeed a grand homecoming for Daniel Ricciardo.

“Everything feels really great. Like honestly, it’s just been so refreshing, coming back into this team and also just taking like one step back and, let’s say, removing myself from the competition this year,” says Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo Interview: "1,000%" About The Right Time & Place

“It’s weird for me to say it because it’s been my life and I love the competition, like that’s the core essence of why I do this. It’s not for the fame or whatever it is. It’s ‘cos I love competing, but obviously, yeah, it just got to a point in the last couple of years… I just need to take a break.”

“So I feel like this is now kind of one step back to hopefully then take two forward. But being back with this team, it’s 1,000% the best thing for me.”

While he’s definitely enjoying a well-deserved break after a decade plus with the travelling circus, by all accounts, Daniel Ricciardo is just 10 minutes away from being ready to get back behind the wheel again. At least, according to Christian Horner.

“I’m certainly staying ready if something does come up, but I’m not chomping at the bit yet to, like, ‘Get me in, get me in.’ I’m really happy taking this time off and I’ve also… it’s given me a chance to, like, see it from a different perspective and one that you just don’t have the luxury of having when you’re in the seat, you know?”

“The season’s so relentless, you might have a chance to review the last race and things you could have done better, but you don’t have a chance to really review everything as a whole and even now, if I was to be back on the grid next year, I would do things differently.”

“Whether it’s with my personal setup or the way I go racing or my commitments or priorities. There’s just things now that I see, even the way I would interact with the team and, yeah… I’ve learned a lot already in the three months of not being in a car.”

“I look forward to looking down six months down the track and seeing how much more I learn and I feel like that’ll make me a much more complete version of myself getting back in a seat if that’s the case the year.”

It’s difficult to imagine Daniel Ricciardo in any other sport. But if he had his pick, it’d probably be the NFL.

“I went to the Super Bowl last month. Just seeing that was so cool. Pobably, yeah, playing in the NFL I think would be pretty awesome… Something more, let’s say, fictional would be like a fight in the UFC or be like a Motocross rider. But the injuries and the broken bones wouldn’t sit as well with me.”

I remark that he’s got pretty solid boxing form based on the mitt sessions I’ve seen him take part in.

“I just don’t like getting hit.”

Fair enough, really.

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So what exactly does a day in the life of Danny Ric resemble these days (aside from speaking to morons like me)?

“No, you’re not a moron,” Ricciardo replies with a laugh.

“How old are you?”

I tell him I just turned 26.

“OK, so you probably haven’t seen The Wedding Singer, have you?”

“Of course I have. That’s Top 10 Sandler,” I say.

“The Buscemi character where he’s like, ‘I’m a person too, pop.’ ‘You’re a moron.’ Anyway…”

Daniel Ricciardo continued: “A normal day off track: one thing I’ve had is obviously a bit more time off to myself. Whether that was over Christmas, you know, I spent pretty much two months back home, which I haven’t had in so long. Just being able to spend time with family friends, trying to teach my nephew how to ride a bike. Things like this have been really nice.”

“Not putting myself first has been really good. I’ve been very selfish for the last 17 years of my career and everyone’s kind of been there for me.”

“So to be there for them and see my nephew and niece grow; or be there for mum and dad and all my mates, you know? All my mates, normal people as well and they go through highs and lows, maybe they don’t live an F1 life but they still have real-life shit that goes on.”

“I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve certainly learned a lot through travelling the last 17 years and met a lot of people and I feel like I’ve grown wisdom and stuff. So if my friends lean on me for things, I feel like I can at least try to help be there for them and maybe have an answer.”

The World Needs An 'Entourage'-Style TV Series About Formula 1

From a professional perspective, aside from serving as an ambassador for every brand from Optus to TAG Heuer, Daniel Ricciardo is currently executive producing a scripted series for Hulu which he himself has described as “Entourage and Ballers” meets Formula 1.

“I can answer things honestly, but without too much detail. there’s still a lot of confidence with things,” he teases.

“We have the writers. They are very established and good writers. So we’re very happy with that and things are progressing really well. Everything’s, let’s say, trajectory is on point. On target.

“The writers, as you probably know are a very, very, very big part of it. I know that the crew had sights set on a couple of people in particular and they were able to acquire them so really happy.”

Daniel Ricciardo Interview: "1,000%" About The Right Time & Place

RELATED: Here’s What Every Formula 1 Driver Is Earning In 2023

As a professional driver, Daniel Ricciardo receives countless queries about his personal car collection. On this occasion, however, I’m curious about his personal watch collection.

“I’ve built quite a nice collection since 2015. I bought my first proper watch and been building it pretty solidly since then. I have a few TAGs and a few others. I don’t know how much I can say,” he replies with a wink vis-a-vis “the others.”

Ricciardo muses about how he would design his own custom TAG Heuer: “I feel like a 39mm is a really nice size. A 38mm or 39mm. Let’s say around that size.”

“TAG do leather straps really well. Maybe throw an alligator strap on there. You never know. Go for more of a vintage look… So yeah: brown alligator strap, platinum 39mm dial, and because it’s a TAG, you’ve probably got to go a Chrono.”

The alignment between an athlete of Ricciardo’s calibre and TAG Heuer is picture-perfect when you consider the watchmaker’s slogan involves refusing to crack under pressure. Looking back at his storied career, there’s certainly been a selection of standout moments in which Ricciardo lived up to the ethos.

“I think of is my first win. I took the lead with about, I think, three laps to go. I still remember it vividly,” Daniel Ricciardo recounts of his maiden victory.

“I was in Montreal, I went around turn one and turn two because I passed in the last corner. I had like a sudden bit of a freakout moment where I felt like my hands were gonna freeze. I was two laps away from winning my first-ever race and I kind of had a fear that I would freeze and, like, not be able to upshift and just the moment would have been too big for me.”

“I was like, ‘Eff that – I refuse to let this moment get the best of me. I’ve earned this, I’ve worked hard for it. I’m on here.’ I remember getting out of turn two and pulling a few upshifts and I was like, ‘Oh, I can do this.'”

I close with a fun question: if a genie granted Daniel Ricciardo’s wish to drive in any era of Formula 1 with a team of his choosing, when and with whom would he compete?

“2024 with Red Bull,” he fires back without a single hesitation, signature grin plastered across his face.

Daniel Ricciardo Interview: "1,000%" About The Right Time & Place

Now that you’ve read BH’s Daniel Ricciardo interview, read our recent chat with Alfa Romeo driver an honorary Australian Valtteri Bottas here.

Garry Lu
After stretching his legs with companies such as The Motley Fool and the odd marketing agency, Garry joined Boss Hunting in 2019 as a fully-fledged Content Specialist. In 2021, he was promoted to News Editor. Garry proudly retains a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, black bruises from Muay Thai, as well as a black belt in all things pop culture. Drop him a line at [email protected]