'I want to try something a little bit different with you today...'

Daniel Ricciardo has just sat down opposite me as he steels himself for the next grilling in a parade of TV crews and Dictaphone-wielding journalists. To Daniel's credit he has never made interviews seem like a chore for him but he responds by saying 'good, I like different'.

As someone who I can assure you comes across just as amiable and friendly in person as they do through your television, Daniel is not a difficult person to interview or open up.

With this in mind, sometimes interviews are just easier and more revealing when they are billed primarily as a good old chat.

Which is why I ask Daniel to simply talk around topics of my dictation rather than answer direct questions, which in this case allows him to open up his 2016 season, his Malaysia victory, that Monaco near miss, his choice between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and, erm, Tesco.

I can safely say it is the most I have laughed from my side of an interview table...

Let's start from the beginning... tell me about your 2016 season so far through your eyes
Sick! [laughs]. You know, 2014 was a breakthrough, but personally, I don't feel I've ever driven better than 2016 and winning in Malaysia with a Red Bull was just the ideal way to cap it off and reward the team for their efforts

Red Bull RB12
Compared to last year, it's definitely an improvement. It's a car which I've become more comfortable with and had more comfort in.

TAG Heuer (whispers Renault) engine
Reliable! Reliability wise compared to 2015 a big improvement. What's been the best thing is that the updates have really given us something and you can feel it. It's been a really good step. To make the same next year would be very encouraging.

Your team
Good. Strong. Positive. The fire is definitely there to win again.

Max Verstappen
Just hit puberty last week I believe [stays deadpan]. He is very, let's say very naturally talented. Very determined. The future awaits to see how much more he can grow.

Get him a birthday card?
I don't do cards. I do hugs.

[brief intermission as he admires his coffee with what resembles a heart - or a kidney - on the top]
Thank you. Did you try to do a love heart? That's my engineer. It's gorgeous, thank you!

Daniil Kvyat
Danil... [pause] I would say, more speed. Definitely has raw speed. He can drive a race car, absolutely. I would say has just struggled to be able to do it at a constant level and repeat it week after week. So I would say when he's comfortable, he can do it, but he's struggled to find the comfort, particularly this year.

F1 of 2016 compared F1 2011
Cor... Quieter, but for sure now, more fun and I think the sport, the racing, the racing's good. Even when one team dominated, I think we've still had some great races. What else? I wanted to say something else. For me personally, I've learnt to become more comfortable in this environment and for that, I've enjoyed it a lot more. Not that I didn't enjoy it, but I'm properly having fun now doing this.

Daniel today compared to Daniel of 2011 [Daniel made his F1 debut with HRT in 2011]
I think the Daniel of 2011 was still intimidated somewhat by Formula 1. I did believe that I belonged here, but I still hadn't quite got up to speed with the whole circus. But now it feels completely normal and natural and cool.

F1 2017... fatter tyres, more downforce
Faster, for sure, it's going to be good. When you feel like in a year we're going to be flat out in turn three in Barcelona again, all these things makes us smile. And I would say a big smile for the speed, and probably a smile as well that we can afford to put on some kilos of muscle and we're going to need it. So physically if it was like Singapore and it is as challenging as this year, then you'd better be prepared next year!

The Halo
Sure it looks ugly at the moment. I think we will get used to the look when we eventually bring it in. I do agree that it doesn't look great, but I do support it [to prevent injury in] the freak accidents basically. So, even if it stops one fatality or serious injury, even one in the next 20 years, it's been better than nothing.

The 2016 Monaco Grand Prix
Completely mixed emotions. It was probably my best weekend of driving of my career. Everything was pretty much perfect that weekend from my side. And yet, it was one of the worst weekends of my career. You know, I look back on it and I think it was heartbreaking, so.... Sort of the best and the worst all in one. But I honestly still look back on it with a positive feeling, because I drove as I really expected to that weekend.

2016 Malaysian Grand Prix
Hot and exhausting! There is a lot to take in. But it felt awesome and I feel really grateful for it. The team has worked really hard and the car has been continuously improving this year, so a big thank you to them. And I'd been waiting a while for a victory so I can dedicate it to Jules.

Being an F1 race winner
That's the ultimate. It's the best feeling. It's all worth it when you when you win. I said a couple of weeks before Malaysia that we would have another win, but we didn't expect it at a circuit like Malaysia. It was probably the sweatiest race to win and do a shoey but for win it's not so bad, I felt a bit sorry for the other guys having to drink from my sweaty shoe.

Hamilton v Rosberg
I think, naturally, people always would just say Hamilton. I think he's been a name for longer. Like when he first got into F1, it was like 'Hamilton'. So he's already been established as one of the best in the world for the last 10 years, where Rosberg probably has had to earn that more in the last few years. But how Rosberg drove in Singapore, then he can definitely be on that level. It's going to be interesting. In a less dramatic way, a bit like Kyvat, I think he can do it [win the title], just it's if he can repeat it.

Bernie Ecclestone
Bit of a legend to be honest. Not going to suck up at all here... even a few simple things. For him to still travel and be as active as he is at that age, forgetting business and what he's done for the sport aside, to still have that hunger about you. To still get up every day and say I'm going to do this, then that's pretty cool.

Milton Keynes [first home when he arrived in F1]
Let's say, I've been happy with the move to Monaco, I haven't regretted that at all. But, you know, Milton Keynes I think was good for me at the time. Would I move back there? No. But did it teach me a thing or two? Yeah. Taught me how to deal with the cold weather a lot better. I appreciated supermarkets a lot more because when I was bored, I pretty much went to a supermarket to kill time, so... I love supermarkets. I was spending a lot of time at Tesco.

AM-RB 001 Aston Martin/Red Bull Hypercar
Pretty sick. I want one. I put my name down, so I believe I will have one over time. But, it's cool. Overwhelming, I would say, for a road car, it looks overwhelming.

Your family
The core. The core of who I am. And in a way, part of my success I think is because of having that upbringing. I think some of the values I have has probably kept me grounded through this whole process and made me appreciate a lot of the journey.

Your fans
Pretty cool. Pretty cool. I mean, the Australian ones... they're very loud and supportive and they're fun. They're always great. I think generally, I've never really come across much dislike or hate. Whether it's at a track or on social media. Not that I read, let's say, many comments, but I think everyone's pretty warm with me.

Being an Australian national hero
To be honest I don't really see that. I mean, I obviously now have a little bit of a name in Australia. Let's say, probably the last, maybe the last year, I'll admit that I have become a bit more aware of it, but not where my head's gone big, but I'm probably a bit of an example to younger kids these days. So maybe not inspire probably, but just trying to be a role model for younger kids I would say plays on my mind a bit more now, so I'm aware of that.

A life beyond F1
There is a lot! I love other sports. I love competition. I think that's a passion of mine. I love also watching sports. UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), for example, for me, is so pure, so raw. One against one and that's like pure competition and I love that. Bikes - I've always been fascinated by two wheels.

Racing on two wheels
Mum was completely against it as a kid, so I don't want to say I'd have been a motorbike rider, but I could have easily taken that path.

Music
I don't play, but I believe I have an ear for music and I love how music can change your mood, can create a memory, and fun, enjoying life. I think that's a passion.

Fitness
Probably in a way [the 2017 regulations] work to my favour personally because I more enjoy pushing myself in training. I find it harder to train when you're going through the motions. And a lot of F1 is that because you just have to maintain your fitness. Because we travel so much, it's easy to run yourself down. So, a lot of the sessions we do, it's just ticking over, but I think next year being forced to push yourself more will be a good thing. I like that.

First memories about F1
Early mornings. I didn't even set alarms. That was a freebie thing. If there was a race on at 3am, I'm not kidding you, I would wake up at 2.50am and I would just go to my Dad's... my Mum and Dad's bedroom, and lay on their bed, I would wake them up, turn the TV on. I'd would sit on their bed and watch it. Dad would be awake for about 10 laps and fall asleep and then I'd wake him up for the end. And I would stay awake the whole race.

The moment you wanted to be a racing driver
Right there on the bed

2017 dreams
World Champion.

 

Comments

Loading Comments...