Daniel Ricciardo is a good driver and also a bit of a smiling assassin. He’s got smiles but he’s also got takes.
Some of those takes are in the latest issue of the British lifestyle magazine Square Mile, which profiled Ricciardo for no apparent reason except that he’s a fun interview. Here he is, for example, talking about Drive To Survive season two, which played up his rivalry with teammate Carlos Sainz.
“I mean the second season, there were some episodes or parts where I feel they forced it a little bit,” Ricciardo explains. “They tried to create a bit of a rivalry between me and Sainz and it wasn’t really there. Like, he’s no more a rival than anyone else. There wasn’t any personal grudge with him, but I think [Netflix] wanted something, so a lot of questions led with asking about Carlos. Maybe no one noticed, but for me, I was like, he’s fine. I’ve probably got other guys that I dislike, you know, as opposed to Carlos… I mean, he dresses like a 60 year old, but otherwise he’s alright.”
The comment about Sainz dressing as a 60-year-old does not read (to me) as genuine heat, but this, about Formula 1's social media presence, does:
I think last year, F1 put on their social channels, like, ‘top 10 moments of the year’ or something, and eight of the ten were crashes. I was just like, you guys are fucking idiots. Maybe 12-year-old kids want to see that kind of content, and that’s cool because they don’t know any better, but we’re not kids. Just do better, guys. Do better than that.”
And so does this, about Lewis Hamilton’s driving abilities:
“To answer it diplomatically, I think Lewis isn’t the only one that could win races in that car. That’s obviously my opinion and I think that George Russell, in a way, showed the possibility of that by pretty much beating Valtteri [Bottas] in his first race. So you could argue that just maybe Lewis doesn’t have the strongest competition,” Ricciardo says.
I recommend you read the full profile; for me, the most interesting part was Ricciardo talking about former teammate Max Verstappen, who drove with Ricciardo at Red Bull. Ricciardo takes some satisfaction in pointing out that the drivers that replaced him there — Pierre Gasly and, later, Alex Albon — didn’t fare as well.
...since I’ve left, the other drivers have come through and him having different teammates, I think it’s probably increased his respect for me even more. I mean we never hated each other, we just wanted to end each other’s careers! It’s as simple as that.”
Ricciardo is now with McLaren after spending two years with Renault, having left Red Bull after the 2018 season. Whether he will ever win a world title probably depends on just how drastically next year’s rules change the sport.
Meanwhile, it’ll be fun to see if Ricciardo can beat his teammate, the 21-year-old Lando Norris this year, since neither have much of a shot to win it all. Norris is ahead so far, having finished fourth at Bahrain to Ricciardo’s seventh, but I’m sure Ricciardo will have plenty to say about that.