Daniel Ricciardo’s motorsport journey began, like so many, glued to a television. In his case, this was often a late-night indulgence, watching Formula 1, NASCAR and all forms of motorsport at home in Perth, Western Australia. Bitten by the bug, he began karting aged nine and moved into Formula Ford at 15.
Daniel relocated to Europe, contesting Formula Renault 2.0 Italy in 2007 before winning the Formula Renault 2.0 WEC title in 2008 and the British Formula 3 title in 2009. A few weeks later he made his F1 testing debut, topping the timesheets for Red Bull Racing in the Jerez Young Driver Test.
This performance led to a test and reserve seat at Toro Rosso for 2010, which Daniel combined with a move up to Formula Renault 3.5. He narrowly missed out on the World Series title but was rewarded with regular FP1 appearances for Toro Rosso. He was loaned to HRT for the second half of the F1 season and made his F1 race debut at Silverstone in the British Grand Prix.
Daniel transitioned smoothly into a race seat at Toro Rosso for 2012 and, in two years with the Italian squad, consistently punched above his weight, gaining a reputation as a demon qualifier, confident overtaker and a racer’s racer, who enjoyed the scrap as much as the result. He scored in 13 of his 39 races and was awarded the Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini in recognition of his efforts.
Daniel was promoted to the senior Red Bull Racing team for 2014. He took a debut F1 victory at the Canadian Grand Prix, followed by further wins in Hungary and Belgium to finish third in the Drivers’ Championship, and was awarded the prestigious Laureus World Sports Award for Breakthrough of the Year.
He took his first pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix in 2016, but was denied victory by a slow pit-stop. He went on to win the Malaysian Grand Prix later that year and once again finished third in the Drivers’ Championship. He added an unlikely Azerbaijan Grand Prix victory in 2017, and a remarkable early season victory in China at the beginning of 2018. He then had the crowning moment of his career to date: winning the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix from pole position, despite driving half the race with a crippled car, down on power, losing gears and with failing brakes. Mid-season, he announced a move to Renault for 2019.
Daniel’s two seasons with Renault were comparatively fallow, and yet, despite limited successes, he still managed to burnish his reputation as F1’s most clinical overtaker, with a penchant for a late-race charge. He signed off from Renault with a flourish, scoring podiums at the Nürburgring and Imola.
Following his switch to McLaren for the 2021 season, Daniel became the most experienced Australian F1 driver of all time, overtaking Mark Webber with his 116th race start at the 2022 Spanish Grand Prix. It was on his 102nd start that he delivered what he has since referred to as “the biggest moment of my career” – even more significant than his Monaco victory in 2018.
The Australian hadn’t won a race since that day in Monte Carlo, but returned McLaren to the top step of an F1 podium for the first time since 2012 with a sensational victory at the Italian Grand Prix. Because of that win and a bet that the pair had made, CEO Zak Brown now has a tattoo of the Monza circuit on his arm, whilst Daniel got the chance to live out his dream of driving Dale Earnhardt Sr's 1984 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
He spent one more season with McLaren, never reaching those same heights. During a frustrating final season with the team, Daniel still enjoyed several high points, including a late charge through the field at the Mexico City Grand Prix that earned him the Driver of the Day tag. He finished in the points in his final race for the team in Abu Dhabi, and departed, having left an indelible mark on the team.
Gregarious by nature, and not disposed to taking himself too seriously, Daniel was a firm favourite with fans, media and the teams. It may not have always gone his way at McLaren, but when the visor went down, the Honey Badger was always a fierce competitor.