With 20 drivers in the field, Formula One is a unique sport in that very few athletes (yes they are athletes, they train cardio rigorously to drive 2-3 hours at 300 kph, forcing themselves under 4G turns, and to shred pounds where weight is critical) get recognized, and there are less names competing for attention
Lewis Hamilton is unquestionably the best driver on the circuit, as he’s challenging Schumacher for most consecutive Drivers’ Championships and setting records almost every race now
Verstappen is an up and comer who seems dead set on dethroning Hamilton’s and Mercedes’ status as top dogs
Sebastian Vettel and Lando Norris are fan favorites with their cool personalities and competitive race performances
But Daniel Ricciardo, who last year switched from Red Bull Aston Martin to the Renault team somewhat surprisingly, is without a doubt the funniest and one of the most well liked drivers on the circuit
Reputation as a jokester
Ricciardo is a man of many laughs and constantly uplifts his rivals and teammates with jokes and lighthearted banter. Check out this little prank on Esteban Ocon, his Renault teammate, to see a glimpse into the daily life of F1’s biggest comedian
It’s not just small pranks like that. A few years ago Valteri Bottas, a commanding driver of Mercedes was about to speak at a press conference when Ricciardo blatantly farted and prevented any type of serious interaction from being had.
In another cash it's stealing teammate Max Verstappen’s phone to post the infamous unflattering pictures of the driver passed out next to him
Or when Daniel suggested Bottas feed his world champion teammate steak. Hamilton is a vegan, and famous for supporting plant based diets and conservation focused causes
Almost every interview or interaction with Ricciardo leads to him making a joke or pulling a prank, whether it’s something small like a one liner, or a bit more complex like messing with Ocon’s windshield wipers
On top of being a hilarious teammate with a cult fan following, Daniel Ricciardo is also a genuinely talented racing driver. He got his start in 2011 at back of the grid Spanish team HRT, where he managed to impress over about half a season. Nothing special, but he clearly was able to hold his own
His short career for the now folded team, won him a move to Torro Rosso, the then-name for Red Bull’s B team
Ricciardo was very good for Torro Rosso, picking up home points in the opening race in Melbourne. He missed out on top 10 finishes for the next almost dozen races, but was a regular scorer in the second half of the 2012 season
In his second year for the Red Bull B team, Daniel continued to impress in a truly uncompetitive car. He particularly shown in qualifying where he was frequently in the top half of the grid
When Red Bull opened up a spot in 2014 just after their championship, Ricciardo was thrust into the spotlight
Ricciardo lined up next to Sebastian Vettel, who had just won the Driver’s Championship, and managed 3 different 1st place finishes. Consistent point places saw him finish the year as 3rd in the rankings, and when Vettel was signed for Ferrari, he became Red Bull’s number one.
A decline in the Red Bull car’s competitive performance when compared with Mercedes’ rise to dominance meant Ricciardo took the brunt of criticism over the next few seasons.
In 2016, Max Verstappen came into the team with a bang. The youngster immediately impressed by becoming the youngest race winner in F1 history, while a few weeks later Ricciardo was set to cap a pole position with a victory at Monaco, the most prolific track in the circuit, but was pushed into 2nd by a lengthy pit stop, out of his control
He did manage to finish 3rd due to a strong second half of the season
Although he continued to compete in the next two years, which saw both Ferrari’s resurgence as a competitor and Ricciardo avenge his Monaco loss with a 2018 1st place finish, Daniel Ricciardo decided not to renew his contract at season’s end and instead move to Renault in a somewhat puzzling decision
Ricciardo’s debut Renault season was less than ideal, littered with engine issues, brake issues, and no podium finishes for the Australian star to be found
While he didn’t finish the coronavirus season’s opening race, he has back to back 8th placed finishes so far, with Britain looming on Sunday. He’s not waited long for his contract decision this time however, and has already announced a move to McLaren next year when Carlos Sainz Jr leaves for Ferrari.
Best of luck Daniel, in both the yellow and the orange.
I am so grateful for my time with @renaultf1team and the way I was accepted into the team. But we aren’t done and I can’t wait to get back on the grid this year. My next chapter isn’t here yet, so let’s finish this one strong. Merci pic.twitter.com/YFfzbwrgD7— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) May 14, 2020