How much do you know about Daniel Ricciardo? Daniel is a Western Australian currently driving for Renault, and I’ve learnt quite a bit about him over the last two and a half years.
Let’s start with the first picture I took of Daniel.
It was back in Abu Dhabi in 2016, and I was there with Red Bull as a paying guest. We went down into the garage and I listened to Daniel talk to his engineer. At that point I thought, “I really love to photograph this sport.” So Daniel has a part to play in that.
He comes from Perth – the same city I do – which is the capital of Western Australia. Going back to 2016, I presented him with this t-shirt of Lancelin.
I have a holiday house in Lancelin – it’s a beautiful town on the coast here in WA. It’s small with beautiful sand dunes at the back. From time to time, Daniel would come and holiday in the town, so I thought he had some sort of attraction to it, hence I gave him that shirt.
At the moment he has a home in Los Angeles, and he also lives in Monaco, so he gets around. He’s a bit of a real character in the paddock and one of the best guys to be around. He’s partnering this year in Renault with Nico Hülkenberg, and boy is that a dynamic pairing. They’re both great characters – they both smile, and love to have fun, although Daniel clearly is the better cricketer and that was made abundantly clear in Britain earlier this year at the British GP, when they all got to play cricket on the main pit straight.
Of course, last year he was teamed with Max Verstappen.
I’m not sure that was the ideal pairing at that time, and I think that might have been a driver for Daniel to leave, but certainly he’s a lot happier with Nico and I believe he’s probably even better mates with Max. I’ve seen them get along quite well a couple of times this year, but none so well as when Max had his win in Austria, where Dan was one of the first to congratulate him.
On the back of his helmet here is the honey badger.
He’s known as The Honey Badger – it’s a creature that never gives up and I’d suggest that’s certainly Daniel’s motto in life.
Daniels’s parents are Joe and Grace. I know Joe and Grace reasonably well – they’re Perth people and a great Italian family. This photo was shot back in Abu Dhabi when Daniel was having his last race with Red Bull.
His parents rolled up to be with him at that time. They’re just lovely, hospitable people – people you want to be around.
Daniel is always keen to do the fun stuff when it comes to marketing opportunities with the team. He never takes it on lightly – he puts his heart into it. Here he is wearing the lederhosen in Austria last year.
He’s also not frightened to wear a silly big hat like here at the Mexican GP, where all the drivers got into the spirit and wore those big sombreros.
What I do like is when he does the driver portraits at the start of the year, which is typically the first race in Melbourne. He will start and say, “Right, I’m going to work from the left, then work around to the right, and I’m going to address each section of the photographers.” He does this because there’s probably 60 or so photographers wanting to get that shot against the black background, and I really like the fact that he does that. I think he’s the only driver that makes an effort in that respect.
I tell you what – he’s one of probably a couple of drivers able to make Lando Norris crack up, and this has been abundantly clear at a couple of press conferences. He’s also good mates with Lewis Hamilton and is happy to have a chat. It’s nice to see Lewis and Dan in press conferences getting along. When it comes to his peers, I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t like Dan – he’s such a popular character! His best mate up until last year was probably Brendon Hartley, because Brendon is a New Zealander and they got on famously. He even gets on well with kids and he’s a bit of a kid at heart I’d suggest.
I was very lucky I got to witness him win three times in 2017. In Azerbaijan I got this cracker of a photo of him flexing his muscles after that win, and Lance Stroll is there with his first podium appearance in third place.
One of the great days – and I think you’d agree if you’re a Daniel fan – would be in Monaco last year when he won. That was his redemption after that awful hiccup in the earlier race when his tires weren’t ready and pretty much cost him the race. This is him standing on top of the car in Monaco on a great day.
I really loved the fact that he played it up on the podium, and then he ended up in the pool at the Red Bull Energy Station with his teammates and Michael Italiano, who we’ll talk a little bit more about later on.
Here he is getting some big air off the car in China after his China win last year.
That was the second of his three wins, and I was pretty happy to capture that pic head-on. He’s also the champion of the shoey – the shoey is his. I don’t know whether I’d want to be doing that, but boy does he relish the opportunity to down some champers out of his sweaty smelly boot.
But you know what he’s really famous for, and that’s his smile! It’s always present whenever he’s out on the paddock. Unless he’s had a real shocker of a day, that smile is on display.
He’s also one of the few drivers to sit in the car without a helmet on, which gives us photographers with a long lens standing at the front of the garage, an opportunity to get some great shots.
Popular with fans, he’s happy to stop for a selfie in almost all instances unless he’s running hellishly late, and will sign autographs too. Often at the track you’ll see him accompanied by his press officer at Renault or Michael Italiano – a fellow Perth guy who’s Daniel’s trainer. The two are inseparable, especially on the grid – Michel’s there to make sure Daniel has everything he needs.
I mentioned before he looks at me and occasionally, he’ll be a silly bugger with me and do funny stuff like this.
This was another great moment when he gave me the finger from just outside the garage. I was shooting with the long lens when bang! Up comes his finger in front of me as a joke, and I appreciate the fun nature of the man.
As a guy, I don’t think you’d find a more likeable man in the paddock.
He’s certainly a character and has given me probably one of my greatest photos of this one here in Germany when he was coming straight towards me.
There are wet tyres, a wet track, water spraying, and Max Verstappen in the background, so I’m pretty happy I nabbed that shot.
So that’s Daniel Ricciardo – a great man I raise my glass to.