Ricciardo: F1 driver first, entertainer second

Daniel Ricciardo wants to be viewed as an F1 driver first and an entertainer second. Image: XPB Images

Daniel Ricciardo wants to be viewed as an F1 driver first and an entertainer second. Image: XPB Images

Daniel Ricciardo wants to be viewed as an F1 driver rather than an entertainer despite being aware of his global appeal.

Ricciardo is one of F1’s most popular drivers alongside the likes of Lewis Hamilton.

The Australian has benefited from the rise in popularity of the sport – even while working as Red Bull’s third driver he featured on prime-time American talk shows.

He’s also leveraged his public image with endorsements as he cashes in on his time in the spotlight.

But Ricciardo doesn’t consider himself an entertainer, even if his bubbly personality does make him one of the sport’s more engaging and recognisable characters.

“All of our profiles have grown, in the last few years, in particular, since Drive to Survive,” Ricciardo explained.

“We’ve all kind of felt a bit of that.

“I think just me with my personality, and also just having some fun with the sport, yeah, that probably got a little bigger as well, because of that.

“It draws a few LOLs every now and then but I think generally, first and foremost, I certainly see myself as a race car driver, not an entertainer or anything like that.”

Formula 1 has seen an influx of new fans in recent seasons as the sport benefitted from its increased visibility.

A large part of that has been Drive to Survive, as noted by Ricciardo, but another aspect was the sport doing well to restart during COVID.

With the world in lockdown, and fresh off the back of its Netflix success, F1 capitalised on a largely captive audience to draw in new fans.

Underpinning it has been a more inclusive and engaging social media presence and expansion into non-traditional areas.

That has transformed the drivers from athletes into media personalities as many new fans choosing to engage with the sport away from race weekends.

However, it has opened doors for drivers to expand their portfolios and increase their earning potential during what is, for most, a brief period at the pinnacle of world motorsport.

“It is funny sometimes, people come up to me like: ‘you were great in that season’ and I’m: ‘racing season – or Drive to Survive season?’,” Ricciardo observed.

“For sure, to some, we’re maybe not all viewed as race car drivers, but it’s just it’s part of it.

“But I think we’re all also, as I said, building profiles and a bit of a brand, but it’s not anything that’s taken away from the racing side of it. And that’s first and foremost.”

Ricciardo had built a small business empire away from the sport – partly out of interest and a need for a distraction away from the intensity of his day job, but also as a means of investing for a future beyond racing.

Making his return to F1 midway through this season, the time away for the 24-year-old afforded him an opportunity realign some of those aspects.

“For sure, through all of this, it can maybe get away from you a little bit,” he admitted.

“Coming back into it this year and having a little bit of that time off, it certainly made me kind of just figure out what I’m about moving forward and how I want to go racing – probably just removing a few things and kind of going back to a little bit of the basics.

“Just making sure that I am seen as a as a race car driver who’s still hungry and determined and not someone who’s just here for a good time.”

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