Ricciardo Q&A: "If I keep my eyes on the prize, I'll get it"

In this exclusive Motorsport.com Q&A, Daniel Ricciardo tells us about the frustration of missing out on victory at Monaco, what it's like to be teammates with Max Verstappen and why sometimes he wishes he was involved in a different sport.

Ricciardo Q&A: "If I keep my eyes on the prize, I'll get it"
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12 and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12
Podium: second position Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12
Podium: second place Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12 celebrates his second position at the end of the race
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari SF16-H at the start of the race
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12
Podium: second position Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, third position Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing
Third place Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing and second place Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing in parc ferme
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB12 at the start of the race
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12
Press conference: third position Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB12

What's most frustrating for you as a sportsman - not being able to fight for wins regularly, or great chances like Monaco being taken from you?

“Probably the missed opportunities, especially when they’re not coming around often. If it happened to Lewis, for a example, then probably in a week’s time he would have one again, so it would have been easier to let go.”

So, you've learned that every chance has to be grabbed, because opportunities don't come around often...

“Yeah, definitely. I guess with Monaco, that was a big frustration. Even Barcelona, the opportunity was there. The Mercedes drivers went out, and it’s like: ‘We’re leading this race now’. You might not get another chance, so do what you got to do.

"That day I felt I did all I could, and it didn’t obviously work out. So we came to Monaco, I was like ‘OK, this is your second chance’.

"Again, I did everything I could. I put the car on pole, and we all know what happened. So that was frustrating, because it was two weeks in a row I was there and I’ve got nothing.

"I’ve been driving so well from the start of the season, and I’ve got nothing, and everybody is actually talking about Max. So it was a combination of a lot of things where I was like, it’s frustrating.

"But at the same time, it’s the way it goes. It’s sport. It is individual, but it’s a team sport. You do have to rely on other people and other factors. You also look back on the times where they have done good pitstops or whatever, so... you never wanna be like a spoiled child, but it is hard to let it go for a bit.”

The public is used to seeing a smiley, happy person. How much do you bang your fists on the table behind the scenes?

“I would say I do enough, but I don’t go crazy. I’ve never thrown a chair or anything like that, because, for me, this might sound conflicting, but I don’t think having a verbal thing, shouting at guys in the engineers' office, is gonna achieve much.

"After Monaco, I was like ‘OK, if I go to the engineers' room it’s gonna be like someone’s died. I’m either gonna lose my shit or nothing productive is going to be said, so it’s better I don’t go’. I just got out of the track and left. So yeah, I prefer to probably take that route than to go call everyone a… yeah.”

Do you feel you performed on a new level with your Q3 lap in Spain? With the focus on Max, were you aware of the significance of that lap?

“That was interesting, because I knew up until that point I hadn’t put my lap together. But still that lap surprised me. I knew we had a bit more in the bag. So I think it’s interesting.

"I think it’s sort of the human body. You think you may be at your limit, but sometimes you’re not. It’s like with Dany [Kvyat]. I always thought I was pushing myself and then Max came on. Yeah, that Q3 I really felt like I got something else out of it. Probably since then we’ve both found another level.”

The clock is ticking on your career, a hundred races here in Germany. Is there an impatience now?

"At times there is, definitely. Obviously after Monaco I made some comments that I’m 27, and I don’t have anything. I think that’s just the competitor and the desire coming out. At the same time I look at some other guys and they haven’t… Alonso won two [titles] in a row and now nothing in 10 years, so I’m not the only one in that position. But I think it sort of goes down to what I believe I am capable of.

"Part of me sometimes wishes I did a different sport, where you could always show your true capability: you know, like tennis, there’s not really any excuse. It’s a racquet and a ball and it’s very simple. Sometimes I get frustrated with the sport, because it’s so complex.

"On a day I might finish fifth, but I felt like I drove better than anyone else. But it doesn’t show anything for it, so. It’s just the way it is. But obviously I’ve chosen this sport. This is my life and I do love it. I realise I’m just gonna have to weather a few storms along the way, but I still believe if I keep my eyes on the prize I will get it.”

In the second half of the season, will beating Ferrari be a challenge?

“I think that’s a good target for us now. Sure, I know maybe I won’t win a race before the end of the year. I will still try but it’s not a guarantee. If I can be the next guy behind Mercedes, then I will treat that like a victory.

"Obviously if we are ahead of Ferrari, that’s gonna be good for the constructors’. Obviously the constructors’ is a big part of it financially. It can really, perhaps, motivate the team to spend a bit more on something that they might be contemplating. Yeah, it can swing obviously both ways.”

Enjoying the challenge with Max?

“I am, I am. As I said, I think it’s pushed me to another level and Max is in his game. I mean, I’ve said it for a while now, I want to be tested in Formula 1. Obviously I believe I can be world champion, that’s my target, but if I don’t, then at least I can say ‘Well, I tried and, OK, I’m not the best in the world, there is someone better than me’. But I like to learn.

"And I think Max is a really good challenge. Obviously he’s got a whole lot of steam and love behind him. It’s a bit like Seb [Vettel], if I can get on top of Max, I think it’s only going to bode well for my future improvement.”

Does the focus on Max sometimes get annoying?

"I mean, I’m sort of glad I’m not that, because it’s pretty hectic at such a young age. He’s more mature than anything, he’s been around for a while. Sometimes it’s nice to go a bit under the radar.

"Sure he should get praise when it’s true for him, but I wanna make sure that I’m getting my praise that I deserve as well."

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