Losing can turn Ricciardo into a ‘f****** psychopath’

Henry Valantine
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo in the paddock. Qatar November 2021.

Every driver is competitive in sport and in life, but Daniel Ricciardo has admitted losing at something when he knew he could win “eats me inside”.

Formula 1’s self-styled ‘Honey Badger’ opened up about how his competitive instincts have overrun his emotions at times, admitting he has previously injured himself in fits of rage at times.

The Australian was quick to say he feels time has mellowed his reactions somewhat – and will always acknowledge defeat when he knows he has been well beaten – but that does not mean he feels any better when he is on the wrong side of a result, be it driving or otherwise.

“I know where it comes from,” Ricciardo told Autosport when asked about his competitive spirit. “As a kid, I was always a raw competitor in everything, whether it was table tennis or a game of Uno, I just hated losing.

“And I think over the years and probably maturity, I’ve felt better with defeat. But I’m still in some ways a sore loser where I just f****** hate it, you know?

“So when I flip or have those moments of rage, it’s when I believe I could have done it. The times when I was miles off, I wasn’t throwing chairs because it was more a case of ‘hands up, I don’t know what to do’.

“But if it’s a situation where I’m a tenth off, but I know the tenth was on the table and I didn’t get it, that’s when it just eats me inside.

“I’m probably better at channelling that now and I’ve kind of injured myself breaking things in the past, so it’s not smart either.

“Michael, my trainer, knows when I’m like this to kind of hug me and restrain me until I calm down! It’s funny because people probably wouldn’t expect that from me – I’m an easy-going, happy guy – but when there’s competition in place, I’m a bit of a f****** psychopath I guess.”

The McLaren driver remains behind his team-mate Lando Norris in the Drivers’ Championship and Ricciardo admitted he still is not quite feeling he is driving the car to its fullest potential.

That said, he remains confident time will enable him to keep improving his skills.

 

“Even if this car doesn’t change for five years then I’ll just get better as a driver,” he said.

“It keeps you excited and motivated, knowing you can still improve and still be better. That’s part of the reason you wake up and get on with it every day. That’s exciting.”