Daniel Ricciardo: “use your good mood as a tool”A jolly disposition is the Formula One star’s trademark for good reason; he knows how to make being successful fun
Having started in a kart aged nine, Australian racing driver Daniel Ricciardo has come a long way in the years since. The 27-year-old is currently enjoying his fourth season with Red Bull Racing having proved himself to be one of the quickest men in the world behind the wheel. And he’s as happy as he is fast. Even sitting in a traffic jam can’t keep him down for long. Here’s how to win with a smile.
THE RED BULLETIN: You’re known on the F1 circuit for your unwavering good mood. Do you wake up smiling?
DANIEL RICCIARDO: As a matter of fact I do.
Even if the day before was awful?
… I start every day from scratch. I have a great life so I start every day happy. I also find things easier when I’m in a good mood, both on the racetrack and in the day-to-day.
Don’t you ever get out of bed on the wrong side?
The worst thing for me is that I might have to get up too early. Early flights get on my nerves.
What happens then?
I listen to music. Music is really good at brightening my mood.
There’s music for any occasion. Sometimes music I listened to in the past helps when I get stuck in tricky situations…
It takes me back to times when I was still wet behind the ears. And then I realise that I don’t make the mistakes I was making then any more. And then the sun comes out inside me again.
Who’s the grumpiest person you know?
When I was a junior I would have said Helmut [Marko, Red Bull Motorsport advisor]. But he’s become more relaxed over time. I had to learn that us being on the podium, achieving success, is really what brings him joy.
So performing well is the only way to make him smile?
That’s the only thing that works with him.
What about other people around you?
Everyone’s hyped up in F1. Humour makes a lot of situations more bearable because it relieves the tension for a bit. If I start dancing in the garage, it will cheer up even the most exhausted mechanic. Or after the race we fool around and bombard each other with film quotes. And drawing on people when they’re asleep is a classic prank. You’ve got to be able to take it, too. At the last race, the guys glued my shoes to the floor…
Have you always been a cheerful soul or can you learn to be?
I’ve always been cheerful. I’m happy, I’m healthy, I like my job. Life is never going to be all sweetness and light, but you can certainly learn to be jolly to some extent.
Let’s put it to the test. You’re stuck in traffic on the motorway. Nobody’s going anywhere. You’re going to miss an important appointment. How long till you start smiling again?
About 10 minutes.
Is that 10 minutes sitting on the spot or 10 minutes after the traffic’s got going again?
Of sitting on the spot. I don’t let things that I can’t do anything about get to me too much. If I get stuck in traffic because I’m disorganised, then I’ll be much more annoyed. But it’s not the end of the world either. I’ll just postpone the meeting or work late. There is always a solution
What do you think about for the 10 minutes?
Something I’m proud of. A hill I’ve bombed up on my bike. A good workout. Or something that’s made me happy. Going out biking with my friends. Sleeping under the stars. A scene from a video. A win. Praise from someone whose opinion matters. A prank I’ve played on someone. People close to me have told me that sometimes I just start giggling out of the blue.
Have you ever tried to be serious?
When I first arrived in F1 I had respect for the big stage and for the whole business, so I tried to be as serious as possible because I wanted to fit in. It only came undone when I started having fun and showing it. I’ve used that positive energy consciously as a tool ever since.