Daniel Ricciardo: "I'll destroy the field"

Ahead of the final Formula 1 round in Abu Dhabi, we caught up with Infiniti Red Bull’s leading driver – and he’s in confident mood.

Damien Reid November 15, 2014

Pre-race routine

If it’s cold, I’ll usually have a bowl of porridge or some fruit. I don’t normally drink coffee but when I do I’m wired, so if you see me drink coffee before a race, you can expect me to be raging.

I don’t have any superstitions; I just build myself up mentally to the point where I’m raging by the time I climb into the car. About an hour before the race, it is my own time to stretch, to start warming up, to tune into my music. It’s my personal time to start thinking about the race and how I’ll destroy the field. Slowly, I build up that competitive aggression, so I’m red hot before I climb into the car.

To the grid

The cars go out half an hour before the race and I drive the installation lap which means I go out on track for one lap, then come back in and check with the team that everything is working as it should be. I check the gearbox, the balance and see if there are any last-minute changes needed. Daniel Ricciardo winning the Canadian GP.

It gets very warm on the grid and the drink in the bottle warms up after about one lap so it’s not nice to drink, especially on hot days. I should ask them to put tea in there or something. Or maybe coffee.

Keep smiling

I think we’ve a lot to be grateful for. There are times when I haven’t been pleased with the result in qualifying or a race but at the end of the day, I’m racing for one of the best teams in the world. A lot of people would kill to have my job, so you’ve got to put a lot of things in perspective and that’s what helps keep yourself grounded.

Hit the breaks

The force and the power when you hit the brakes after going 300kmph is amazing — it’s like someone is standing on the back of your head trying to kick it forward. Daniel Ricciardo. Sim or no sim?

I think simulators are pretty good in terms of helping you to prepare. What you learn on a sim is good but I don’t think it makes a difference between winning and coming second. I think it helps the engineers more with car set-up as they’re able to try different things. The sim is the best way to learn, but you don’t get to this stage without being a quick learner.

Starstruck

My aim this year was to establish myself as a front runner and mix it with the likes of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikonnen, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian [Vettel, his four-time world champ team mate], and show them that I can be one of those top guys that everyone measures themselves against. I’ve been really pleased that I’ve been able to do that and confirm what I believed I could do. So that’s been the most satisfying thing.

Details: See Ricciardo racing in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. November 21 to 23. For more visit abudhabi-grand-prix.com