Daniel Ricciardo has shed light on how he took a different approach to the F1 summer break, in light of his downtime in the season’s first half.
The Australian driver is gearing up for a more straightforward second half of the F1 season, having rejoined the grid just ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix for two races before the summer break began.
Ricciardo had been without an F1 drive after being bought out of the final year of his McLaren contract following two years of disappointing results, but secured a Red Bull reserve role that has resulted in an AlphaTaur call-up as the team dropped the underperforming Nyck de Vries.
Daniel Ricciardo’s different approach to the F1 summer break
Knowing that his promotion into the AlphaTauri seat had him in less than ideal shape given his lack of preparation time, Ricciardo explained that he feels he’s been able to prepare better for the second half of the season as he didn’t take much downtime during the four week pause.
“I think I had so much off time this year relative to running a full schedule,” Ricciardo told media, including PlanetF1.com, at the Dutch Grand Prix.
So I kind of had my break and my time off and so, I didn’t need the summer break. Obviously, I know everyone else did and I understand that but, yeah, I’d had mine, so it was really just a good chance for me to catch up a little bit while the others were switching off.
Additional reporting by Sam Cooper.
“I still definitely had a good time and switched off from racing, but I was certainly looking after my body more than I usually would on a summer break. But I think, as well, this kind of second chapter of my career, I am feeling just different about things.
“I feel like, at least right now with where my head’s at, I’m in a very good place and taking it seriously. Not obviously putting unnecessary pressure on myself or anything but just have some goals to achieve and some things to chase. So that’s where I’m at.”
Asked whether he feels he still needs to go through some more personal growth to be ready for a full-time drive in 2024, Ricciardo said he’s feeling the joy of racing once again.
“I’m in a good place. The six months off, I did a lot of… personal growth or reflecting and just got things right again,” he said.
“Obviously, I’ve only had the two races but those two races, not only on track but I think off track and the way the weekend ran and how I felt on a personal level, was exactly what I wanted and the level of happiness and enjoyment and drive and motivation, I think that was probably what I’d been looking for a little while.
“So now let’s just get back to it, but maintain the things that I’ve learned in that time off, you know, carry those with me. As I said, for this chapter two of my journey, it’s things that I’ll hold along the way and make sure I don’t get back into any old habits or anything like that, but it feels refreshing.”
Daniel Ricciardo’s conversation with Fernando Alonso about F1 career break
Ricciardo explained how he’d actually conversed with Fernando Alonso about his break – the Spaniard having taken two years off to pursue other racing interests at the conclusion of 2018.
“I spoke actually to Fernando, I remember it was on a flight – I can’t remember where it was – but yeah, he touched on the time off and the benefits of that and I certainly feel that,” Ricciardo said.
“I know all of us are different and respond to different things. I wasn’t sure if I would need 12 months off or two years or whatever it was, but the six months was really powerful for me.”
Asked to explain what he’d meant by referring to the ‘bad habits’ he felt he’d allowed to develop, Ricciardo admitted he had gotten his wording slightly wrong.
“When I said it, I wasn’t really sure what I meant! Sometimes I just talk and things come out and I’m like, ‘Oh, whatever!'” he laughed.
“I guess what I meant was probably not bad habits. Just more… so like negativity. When the results aren’t going well, it’s hard to still be this really positive ball of energy, but there are things that you can do.
“I have awareness now of if I feel like I’m falling into a place of negativity or something, then I think I have the awareness now to not slip into that. Through experience, I’ll know now what is the right path to take and what isn’t.”