Ricciardo’s ‘Honey Badger rage’ comes out at Monza

Finley Crebolder
Daniel Ricciardo walking through the Monza paddock. Italy September 2021

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo walking through the Monza paddock. Italy September 2021

Daniel Ricciardo was raging at the end of qualifying in Monza after briefly thinking he’d secured P3 before being told he finished P5.

The Aussie has rarely been at his best in his first season driving for McLaren, struggling to get to grips with his machinery, but he looked on top of his game during qualifying in Italy.

After both he and team-mate Lando Norris made it to Q3 comfortably, the Brit went ever so slightly faster in their first runs, with both not far off Max Verstappen.

It looked like that would be the case again in their final laps, with Ricciardo down on the other McLaren driver after the first two sectors.

However, he was rapid in sector three and clawed back a lot of time. In fact, at one point he was provisionally in P3, and he thought he’d done enough to secure the spot when he crossed the line.

He says that rage carried him through the final sector, and came through again when he found out he’d actually be starting P5 in the sprint race, making his well-known Honey Badger nickname all the more relevant.

“Yeah, I was angry. That was pure rage,” he told Sky Sports regarding his strong sector three.

“I knew there was time in the last sector, I knew what I had there, but yeah the first two were just kind of net-even or whatever you call it, and I knew I had to pull something out in the last sector.

“I thought it was enough. I think I was third for a short moment in time and then it was fourth, then fifth, so that was probably what hurt the most. I actually thought I was third.

“When Tom told me I was fifth and told me the gaps… Not to talk about myself, but that is honestly why I call myself the Honey Badger, because I do have an ability to flip and feel a lot of rage in a short amount of time.

“So that’s internally what I feel but I’m going to be smart and hold it in and use it for good reasons in the sprint and the race.”

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The intra-team battle at McLaren has been one of the most one-sided this season with Norris more often than not getting the better of Ricciardo.

While he did so again in qualifying at Monza, the Aussie says missing out on a top-three spot and not beating Verstappen hurt more.

“I’m more frustrated about third, to be honest,” he added.

“I was so close to Max and obviously Max has been the guy in qualifying lately… To be so close to that and to be try and be in that group [the top three] – it’s been a while so that would have been nice.

” But… It was positive, we were fast, we had a good gap to the guys behind us. Us top five have set ourselves a bit of a distance to the guys behind us and I’m optimistic that we can hold that and look forward, to be honest.

“I don’t want to be fifth tomorrow.