Ricciardo: “I thought I’d wanna distance myself a little bit but I still love it. I can’t help it”

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Picture Credits: Oracle Red Bull Racing

It is well known that Daniel Ricciardo is without a seat on this year’s F1 starting grid, but the much-loved Aussie is back in the Red Bull Racing ranks as a reserve driver. Australia’s ‘The Project TV Show’ recently interviewed the Honey Badger to see how he is handling life in his new role. In an interview which occurred prior to this season’s Australian Grand Prix, Ricciardo explained he’s happy with his decision – particularly as it allows him to see more of his family. 


The Project TV Show proudly advertises that it has been providing Australian television viewers with their dose of ‘News Delivered Differently’ for over a decade. Daniel Ricciardo certainly played his part by introducing himself to host Georgie Tunny saying ‘Max Verstappen, nice to meet you’. This quip – to the delight of Tunny who continued by saying ‘it’s so nice to meet you Max, you’ve had a wild couple of years’ before giggling at the in joke – shows how well Ricciardo is doing. The Perth native then went on to explain how relaxed and settled he felt in Melbourne ahead of the Grand Prix. 


“Coming into this weekend it’s just, yeah, my role’s different to what it has been the last decade or so, but it does still feel like there’s a lot of energy. I feel like in the city everyone’s still stoked and excited and yeah as you mentioned like being back with Red Bull’s very familiar for me and yeah just really you know in a comfortable place right now,” explained Ricciardo. 


The 8-time F1 Grand Prix winner was then asked what it is like to not be racing. His reply again showed his calm and content manner.

“I’m very, let’s say, happy with the decision I’ve made not to be on the grid this year and I think a lot of people were worried and there’s like a feeling that you can’t miss a season you know like the sport moves too fast and you know that’s a career ender but I mean I know me better than anyone and I know that this is right for me in 2023.” 

One of the people clearly worried for Daniel Ricciardo is Sky Sports F1’s pit reporter Ted Kravitz. In the days after The Project TV Show interview at the Australian Grand Prix, Kravitz caught sight of Ricciardo in the paddock after the race and said in a conversation beamed out by Sky: “Just a tip. I’m not sure you look good on the pit wall.”

This was in reference to the image of a lone figure of Daniel Ricciardo during the race as he looked on at his former rivals navigating the Albert Park Circuit. However, the Aussie’s response of “I look good in these colours though, right?” reiterated how settled Ricciardo feels back in his home team. For Kravitz though his concern continued to be shared as he stated “You do, but don’t go on the pit wall, it wasn’t a good look. It made me sad.”

The exchange then concluded with a beaming Daniel Ricciardo saying:“Did I look a bit lonely? It’s alright. I can do it for a year. It’s alright. It’s not forever.” 


Daniel Ricciardo intends to be away from the starting grid of the pinnacle of motorsport for only a year. This topic also came up back in The Project TV Show conversation as host Georgie Tunny probed as to whether Ricciardo has been keeping up on events of the current F1 season. 


“I’ve been following the races that’s one thing I will say. I wasn’t sure if I would be as invested, you know, now, obviously not participating in the race. So, before the first race I was like ‘oh’ and then as soon as it was like Friday practice I was like ‘no I’m watching’.  I thought I’d wanna distance myself a little bit – but I still love it. I can’t help it,” confessed Ricciardo. 


As much as Daniel Ricciardo says he is happy with his decision, the question was then posed as to whether he was getting the itch to get back to racing sooner rather than later. On this point, Ricciardo highlighted the areas of his life he can now be involved in as opposed to reflecting on those that he cannot. “Right now, I feel OK I think the itch is inevitable. I gave myself time over Christmas to just do nothing basically and holiday like a normal person, but I can’t sit still for too long. So, the itch to then race I’m sure will come pretty soon,” said Ricciardo. 


Having labelled himself as a normal person, Ricciardo was then asked what that lifestyle now looks like. At the forefront unsurprisingly, was the opportunity to see more of his family and friends as Ricciardo replied: “I had more time at home over Christmas which was really nice and that was just really nice just spending time with family my niece and nephew. Hanging out with them, teaching him how to ride a bike just doing like normal things like that and spending more time with my friends. You know, I haven’t had many opportunities to do that in a kind of normal environment. A lot of the time they’ll come and see me race and we might go out for a dinner after the race, and you know have a few drinks but we’re not actually getting a lot of time like normal time together – so that sort of stuff.” 


Daniel Ricciardo by his own admission needs this time away from the on track action and the benefit of doing so was clear to see in his demeanour in the Melbourne F1 Paddock and his encounters throughout the Melbourne Walk. The 2023 F1 grid is certainly a different place without the Honey Badger in the same way that it is without Sebastian Vettel – and Kimi Raikkonen prior to that. It remains to be seen how and where Daniel Ricciardo will fit into the starting line up in 2024 but that is a concern for another day. For now, a refreshed Ricciardo is clearly relishing these new opportunities and a lighter schedule as he fully expects it won’t be forever. Words of comfort no doubt to his many millions of fans. An F1 fanbase which will clearly be waiting for him – when he returns.