Daniel Ricciardo says seeing Max Verstappen remain ‘the same person’ after title glory has helped change his mindset on chasing titles.
The Australian secured a return to F1 in mid-2023 with Red Bull sister team AlphaTauri, having been facing the end of his career just a few months prior as he and McLaren parted ways following a tough two years together.
Ricciardo has become a realistic prospect for a return to Red Bull outright, should he impress in his full-time role at AlphaTauri in 2024, as Sergio Perez’s cockpit comes up for renewal – and the Australian has no qualms about pairing up with former team-mate Max Verstappen.
Daniel Ricciardo: Becoming World Champion wouldn’t change me as a person
Having set out from Red Bull at the end of 2018 to forge his own path, the Australian has returned to the fold in very different circumstances having been unable to achieve the success he’d hoped for.
To that end, partnering up with Verstappen again would require a different mentality to the last time the pair raced together, as Red Bull need able support for the Dutch driver’s talents, rather than a successor.
It’s perhaps for this reason that Ricciardo has admitted he isn’t putting the same amount of pressure on himself to achieve title glory as he once did, especially having seen that Verstappen hasn’t changed despite his title victories.
Appearing on the Beyond the Grid podcast, the AlphaTauri driver said having had to live his life without F1 for a few months, and facing the real prospect of never returning, may turn him into a better all-round racing driver.
“That’s what I’m working on,” he said.
“Do I still want to be world champion? Yes. Has it been a dream of mine since I was a kid? Yes. But maybe it’s just because I’ve seen Max, or whoever else, and they’re still waking up the same person.
“I think you just take a little bit of pressure off it. It’s not going to change me as a human. Therefore, it’s not going to change my life moving forward.
“Yes, it will present some other opportunities if you are to achieve such a feat, but I know my mum and dad are going to look at me the same way, whether I’m a world champion or whether I’m not. It’s probably a bit of perspective. I still want it and I still deep down believe I can do it, but it’s really not going to change the course of my life.”
Given a second opportunity in the sport that saw his first chance crumble away through two dismal years at McLaren, Ricciardo said he’s able to take a different mindset into what he’s been given.
“I’m treating it like a second chance to go all in for this last part of my career,” he said.
“There are things that I’m going to do differently to make sure that all my energy is focused on going all in. But then there’s also definitely an element of making sure that you’re okay after racing, after your career.
“Especially in sport, you do it from such a young age, you’re not a businessman from five years old. Sport is a very rare career where you can start pursuing it so young that it’s been your only purpose in life and it’s consumed you and your family as well.
“When it’s gone, I know that’s where a lot of athletes can struggle with their identity, I guess. Where are they going to get that adrenaline from? Where are they going to get that drive? I’m aware that it’s not easy for everyone also to transition to life after sport.
“I was also curious to know how my life could look and how I would be. I am obviously a positive person and normally just very easy-going. It’s not something that I was necessarily concerned about, but you want that comfort of knowing that I’m going to be fine and I can enjoy other things in life.
“Racing is my passion, but it’s not everything and it’s not the be-all and end-all. I think I got that answer, which was really good. I think it allows me to come back for this second phase with, in a way, less pressure. Deep down I’m going all in and I want to put everything I can into it, but there is part of me that is also a little bit lighter.”