Daniel Ricciardo said his ‘Honey Badger’ nickname comes from feeling laughed at in his first Red Bull season as 10 years on, he plans on giving rival drivers a reminder of just who he is.
A product of the Red Bull junior system, Ricciardo made his F1 debut in 2011 and after a two-season stint with junior outfit Toro Rosso, found himself stepping up to the main Red Bull team from 2014.
And it was at this point the ‘Honey Badger’ was born in response to his feeling that he was not taken seriously, including by fellow drivers.
Daniel Ricciardo planning ‘Honey Badger’ reminder for F1 2024
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
Sensing that his rivals were revelling in the thought of “bullying” him on the track, the happy, smiling Ricciardo decided that he would embody the ferocious sprit of the honey badger in how he went about his on-track business.
The Aussie returned to the F1 grid in 2023 with Red Bull’s rebranded junior team AlphaTauri, following a confidence-sapping two-year stint with McLaren and Ricciardo feels his peers no longer look at him as this late-braking, hard-fighting racer on the track. So, what better time to remind them than in F1 2024? The 10-year anniversary of the ‘Honey Badger’.
Asked by media including PlanetF1.com whether his bright personality ever means he feels misunderstood, Ricciardo replied: “Yeah, I think it was really my first year at Red Bull back in 2014.
“I was very aware that and I felt it in some drivers, some drivers were probably laughing at me thinking, ‘Oh, what’s Red Bull done here, got this young kid that has curly hair and just smiles and laughs a lot and he might be quick on one lap, but we’re just going to bully him in a race situation’.
“I definitely felt that and maybe I orchestrated some of it in my head as well to kind of give myself a point to prove and I think that’s where I adopted the ‘Honey Badger’ and got most awards that year in terms of like greatest overtake or whatever it was. I really felt like that was a time for me to step up I guess and to be taken a little more seriously.
“Of course, with time things can change and people can kind of forget and I’m sure people don’t think I’m the racer that I was or the overtaker or whatever that was, so of course, there’s a part of me which wants to remind a lot of people.
“On my helmet, in 2018 I think it was, I had, like for a few races, ‘remind these cats’. And I think that was everyone always needs reminding, so I’m always happy to do that.
“Next year will be the 10-year anniversary of the ‘Honey Badger’, so I definitely plan on making some noise again and I think yeah, just being taken seriously.
“Not that I don’t think I am, but for sure some people question it.
“I think also, there’s some things I’ve done where even for example this year, I’m training myself and I’m waking up on my own clock and kind of pulling myself into the gym and all these things where I just kind of want to prove a point that I can do this and I don’t need someone holding my hand, like this is what I want and it’s not someone else’s wish or demand.”
Ricciardo will continue to partner Yuki Tsunoda for F1 2024 as the eight-time grand prix winner looks to apply pressure on Sergio Perez for a 2025 Red Bull seat.