How well does Daniel Ricciardo know his own career? We put his memory to the test.
THIS STORY ORIGINALLY APPEARED ON REDBULL.COM.AU
Things we know about Daniel Ricciardo: wins Formula One races, smiles a lot, is a starring member of the younger generation of drivers with genuine claims on winning a world championship. Among the things we don’t know: how well does he remember some of the key steps in his career to this point? How to solve that question? Ask him 10 of them.
In the latest instalment of our ‘Brain Games’ series, we put the Red Bull racer back in the time machine to take him back to the moments that made him – and test his recall of what happened and why. Let’s go.
1. Let’s start way back with the Formula BMW Asia series in 2006, the first time you’d done anything overseas. You won two races that year – where were they?
Daniel’s answer: “They were both at the same track – Bira.”
The right answer: Bira in Pattaya, Thailand.
Daniel says: “One from one! Racing overseas was a big deal back then and something I did reluctantly in some ways because I didn’t really like travelling back in those days. I was the opposite to my sister, she’s a couple of years older than me and she was the one who always wanted to do family holidays and see something, and all I wanted to do was chill out with my mates in Perth. It’s funny when you think how things have turned out – all I wanted to do as a kid was stay at home.”
2. Let’s move forward into your earlier F1 days. You were test driver for Toro Rosso at eight Grands Prix back in 2011 – which circuit of those eight did you never get to race at?
Daniel’s answer: “Istanbul. I’m right? Yes!”
The right answer: Istanbul Park, Turkey.
Daniel says: “The one practice session I did there was in the wet as well, so I never got to drive it in the dry which was a real shame because it was an awesome track. I never got to go full beans around there, but even in the wet I enjoyed it. There were a lot of great corners there – everyone talks about Turn 8 but I really enjoyed Turn 1 too, downhill, left, unsighted – really cool. A few of the (Hermann) Tilke tracks – even somewhere like Korea was a good track, but they’ve built all the good tracks in the middle of nowhere!”
3. You made your F1 debut for HRT at Silverstone in 2011. Who was your first teammate?
Daniel’s answer: (in over-the-top Italian accent) “Vitantonio Liuzzi.”
The right answer: Tonio Liuzzi.
Daniel says: “It was interesting with Tonio and Narain Karthikeyan at HRT because I was coming in at the very start of my career, and they’d been there and done that, so the HRT thing for them was a way to stay in the sport more than progress through it. Tonio was competitive, it got more competitive with him as the season went on. I think he out-qualified me the first three races – I knew he’d be fast, but his one-lap pace was seriously impressive. The first few qualifyings I felt like I’d done a good lap, and then he’d nail one and I didn’t know where the time came from. To this day, he’s still one of the quickest guys I’ve come across over one lap.”
4. Where did you score your first F1 points, and where did you finish?
Daniel’s answer: “Ninth in Melbourne. Not one I’m likely to forget!”
The right answer: Two points for finishing ninth in Australia, 2012.
Daniel says: “The last lap was crazy – (Kamui) Kobayashi had a puncture, I was in there with ‘JEV’ (Jean-Eric Vergne) and (Sergio) Perez, (Nico) Hulkenberg was behind, it was chaos. When I crossed the line, I honestly had no idea where I’d finished and I had to ask the team, so to get ninth after being 12th to start the last lap was awesome.
“That weekend gave me a taste of what racing at home as an Aussie in the Aussie Grand Prix was all about. I was pretty exhausted after everything finished that weekend on the Sunday, that was the first real experience of what a home F1 weekend was all about. I understand now – Mark (Webber) used to look at me and was probably thinking ‘jeepers, this kid’s got too much energy’, and I would look at him and wonder why he didn’t have more enthusiasm to be everywhere and do everything at home! I see it now, he’d been there and done that and realised it takes its toll. I’ve learned that you have to pick your moments and conserve your energy when you can.”
5. Staying with 2012. You started your fourth GP for Toro Rosso in Bahrain in 2012 from what was a career-best sixth on the grid. Where did you finish lap one?
Daniel’s answer: “I was hoping everyone had forgotten this one (laughs). 15th?”
The right answer: 16th.
Daniel says: “The perception back then was maybe that I was quick but not up for a fight, and it was just me being a bit young and maybe not really believing in my own ability and my own confidence. In junior categories I’d held my own in battles, so I knew I had it in me – but in F1 terms, I was a bit green at the time. I probably overwhelmed myself about it more than anything. It’s one of those ones that I look back on now – as much as that day sucked, it did good things for me and maybe gave people a bit of a false impression of what I’m like on track. Maybe that was why 2014 caught so many people by surprise, because they remembered that day in Bahrain. So it was a painful lesson, but one of those ones that has made me the driver that I am now.”
6. You became Red Bull’s seventh race driver in F1 in 2014. Who were the six that came before you?
Daniel’s answer: “Alright. Webber. Vettel. Christian Klien. David Coulthard. Robert Doornbos. And the sixth one is …”
The right answer: David Coulthard, Christian Klien, Tonio Liuzzi, Robert Doornbos, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel.
Daniel says: “Ah, Liuzzi, I thought he was just Toro Rosso. I should have known that. Doornbos was the tricky one but I remember that I was racing that weekend in Formula BMW and he’d stepped in at Red Bull.
“‘DC’ is a guy who has taught me a lot about, well, life really – especially since I moved to Monaco. He’s like the godfather of Monaco! He’s like the extra parent for all of the young drivers when we first move here. He’s just taught me some good things that don’t have anything to do with F1 – how to treat people, how you come across and that sort of thing. He’s got his values in the right place and he’s someone you can learn from. He’s probably just as busy and doing just as well these days as he was when he was racing.”
7. At what race did you get your first F1 podium?
Daniel’s answer: “This sounds like a trick question, so I’ll say Barcelona two years ago, much as I hate to say it.”
The right answer: third in Spain 2014 (after he was disqualified from second in Australia that year).
Daniel says: “I can look back at Melbourne in 2014 now and realise what an amazing day it was even though the podium got taken off me. If I’d lost the championship that year by the points I lost that day, I would have looked at it as the darkest day ever, but in the end it didn’t really change anything, so I look back at it with good memories. I loved that day, just being up there on the podium and the crowd going nuts. It’ll be good to do it for real. One day …”.
8. Your first F1 win came in Canada in 2014 – what’s your next-best finish at that circuit?
Daniel’s answer: “That’s hard. I’ve sucked in Canada except for 2014! Last year was s**t, ’13 was s**t … 2012?”
The right answer: 13th in 2015 (he was 14th in 2012, 15th in 2013).
Daniel says: “Geez that’s bad. 2013, things didn’t go well in that race and I took myself off to the ‘States and had to do some thinking … Canada has been a place of highs and lows for me, that’s for sure. Montreal is such a good city. In ’14 I was supposed to fly out straight after the race, but after the win we made some late plans and stayed and went out – that was definitely worth it!”
9. Your race engineer Simon Rennie – which five other F1 drivers has he been race engineer for?
Daniel’s answer: “I reckon he still has a man crush on Alonso, so that’s one. Kimi Raikkonen – not many people know that Kimi’s ‘leave me alone, I know what I’m doing’ was said to Simon. That’s two. Webber. Three. This is tough. Kubica? And Kovalainen?”
The right answer: Fernando Alonso in 2009, Robert Kubica in 2010, Nick Heidfeld in 2011, Kimi Raikkonen in 2012 (all at Renault/Lotus), Mark Webber 2013 (Red Bull).
Daniel says: “Completely forgot Heidfeld. Happy getting Kubica though! I’m the only driver Simon has done a second year with, he told me that at the start of the year. That’s commitment! He speaks pretty fluent Australian these days as well. Simon’s great, he’s funny and has a dry sense of humour, and he’s a typical Northerner. He’s a legend, he’s helped me a lot and we work really well together.”
10. Alright, you get one bonus non-career question. Complete the next sentence: “Ignorance is an easy friend but in the end it takes everything. Fear, it finds me and it binds me.”
Daniel’s answer: “Geez … I’m pretty sure this is some hardcore lyrics … Oh, I’ve got it – is it from … (laughs)”.
The right answer: it’s part of the lyrics to Parkway Drive’s ‘Deliver Me’, which Ricciardo performed on stage in London with the band in February this year.
Daniel says: “Yes! I was absolutely sh***ing myself when I went on stage, I won’t lie. I’d decided that I wasn’t going to drink at all from January 1 until after the first race in Melbourne, and then this came up and I resorted to some straight whiskey that night because I needed it, I was so nervous. Apparently it’s good for your throat as well. It was kind of planned – I’d emailed them a week before when I realised I was going to be in London the same time as they were – and they asked me if I wanted to come up on stage and sing a few lines. It was completely unrehearsed though and we just went through with it on the night. It wasn’t the last song of the night so I got off stage and I was just ridiculously pumped, on cloud nine. It was very, very cool. But I’ll stick to my day job, I think.”