McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo is known for his great overtaking in Formula 1 today, but that wasn’t always the case.
Ricciardo is one of the most well liked F1 drivers today, and is massively popular among fans. He made his debut in 2011, and has gone on to race for HRT, Toro Rosso, Red Bull, Renault and McLaren.
He is a eight time race winner in F1, with seven of them coming during his Red Bull stint. It was the last time he had a consistent race winning car, and his late-braking and aggressive driving made him a fan favorite. However, he wasn’t always this confident, and there was a time when he wasn’t remotely comparable to a ‘honey badger.’
During a podcast session with 2016 Champion Nico Rosberg, the 32-year old revealed what made him change his approach to driving. He recalls how during his karting days, he often let opportunities slip on the track, because he didn’t want to make ambitious moves to get past his opponent.
“A lot of the times when I was racing, I was fast enough,” he said. “I would get close to the guy in lead and I wouldn’t pull the trigger. For a lot of years, I had the speed but didn’t have the tenacity.”
How Daniel Ricciardo got the nickname of ‘honey badger’ from his Red Bull trainer
In spite of being very apprehensive with his driving approach in early days, Ricciardo overcame these problems when he hired driving coaches. They helped him find that ‘killer instinct’ and allowed him to make more overtakes during races.
“I think you always have it in you,” the McLaren star continued. “But I sometimes needed someone to reinforce it to me, that I was strong enough.”
Ricciardo then revealed how he got the honey badger nickname. In 2014 he joined Red Bull, which was a big step up for his career. He was now in a race winning car, and made it a point to not let anyone “push him around”.
Honey badgers are off to sleep 👋 pic.twitter.com/hwa39rRmOz
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) September 20, 2014
“The honey badger nickname, it came from my trainer at the time, Stu (Stuart Smith),” he said. “I think he saw one of the documentaries on YouTube. He came out, showed me the video and goes, ‘Mate, this is you.'”
“He said ‘you’re nice, you seem friendly and you are cuddly and cute’, whatever. But he was like ‘you have this killer instinct in you and you can make this switch and I think this fits you perfectly’.”
Ricciardo’s last win in F1 came with McLaren at the 2021 Italian GP. He led the team to their first win since 2012 and first one-two finish since 2010 that afternoon in Monza.