Ricciardo reveals big wager he wants with McLaren
Daniel Ricciardo famously made a podium bet for his former team boss to get a tattoo, but the Australian F1 star has his eyes on a bigger wager with his new team McLaren this year.
As Ricciardo helped launch McLaren's 2021 campaign and its new Mercedes-powered machine on Tuesday, Ricciardo revealed he had committed to McLaren for three years and was confident the team had a "big chance" of delivering him a coveted world championship in that time.
Ricciardo makes the move to McLaren - his fifth team in F1 - after two years at Renault where he won a bet with his ex-team boss Cyril Abiteboul last year for the Frenchman to get a tattoo if the Australian could put the team back on the podium.
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The 31-year-old is still waiting for Abiteboul to come good on his end of the deal, but he has now moved on to what he could put on the line with McLaren team boss Zak Brown - and it's a lot more expensive than a tattoo.
"You will definitely know when I get it done with Cyril, unfortunately it hasn't happened yet, but it will. We certainly left on the terms that there was some unfinished business and that business being the tattoo," Ricciardo said ahead of the team's launch.
"I hope it does happen, sooner rather than later, but it will.
"Actually, we were only a couple of hours ago having some lunch with Zak and he mentioned something about him hating needles, so I can't see the tattoo thing happening with Zak but we'll think of something else.
"I know he has got a pretty good car collection so maybe we can just bet one of those cars or something."
In terms of his F1 career, Ricciardo is waging a lot more than a sports car as he shifts to his third team in four years in his quest for an elusive world championship.
He knows there is no "crystal ball" in the sport, but is confident he has seen everything from McLaren so far to suggest the team has put itself in the best position possible to be a "real contender" once the sport's new regulations come into play from next year.
"We don't have a crystal ball, leaving Red Bull and leaving Renault, it's what I feel is right. Do I know 100 per cent how it is going to turn out? No, I don't," Ricciardo said.
"But I certainly feel like McLaren have done the right things, particularly the last few years to set themselves up for these rules changes coming up in 2022.
"The next era of F1 has the ability to turn the field around a little bit and everything I have seen … up until now really excites me about where McLaren is heading.
"They are doing what it takes to now be a real contender in the championship.
"I see (Ayrton) Senna's car downstairs and it's wild, it's wild to see it and be a part of it."
Set to turn 34 before his McLaren deal expires, Ricciardo refused to accept this would be his last roll of the dice to claim a championship - but he is determined to make it work.
"I am against saying it's my last chance because I certainly don't want to drag it out until I am 40, still scraping trying to get it," Ricciardo said.
"I certainly hope I have achieved it before then. I don't want to say it's my last chance, but it's a big chance and one that I certainly want to make the most of.
"Before I've got grey hairs, hopefully I'm holding a big trophy."
Ricciardo finished fifth in the drivers' championship last year - his best result since 2017 - after two podium finishes.
He said standing on the podium in his first year with McLaren, third in last year's constructors' championship, would be an obvious pass mark, but he also has other measurements for success.
"The easy answer is to be on the podium and get my first podium with McLaren, obviously that would be good, but if that's just a one off and the rest of the races are sub-par then I don't think that is enough," he said.
"It's really probably finishing the last race and knowing whatever I finish in the championship, knowing that I had a real influence and contribution to the team and I have helped get them closer to the front.
"Ultimately, I can look back and go 'I really made a footprint in my first season at McLaren and I'm respected by the team and they believe in me to be a guy that can push this team to a world title'."
They have created some moments of hilarity off-track before, but Daniel Ricciardo expects his competition with new teammate Lando Norris to be "fierce" in the car.
Ricciardo has 10 years on 21-year-old Norris, but he said there was plenty he could learn from his younger teammate as he transitioned to a new team where Norris has raced the past two years.
"We both have a similar approach to the game. We both love what we do and enjoy our job and we're not afraid to show that," Ricciardo said.
"We have the same approach, but also from a bit of a different generation. I think I'm 10 years on Lando, so I think it creates quite a good combination.
"Off-track, for sure, we'll always be seen to be having a good time, but I do believe the competition on track will be good, it will be fierce and more importantly I think driving the team forward.
"That's something we want to state among ourselves and do our best for the team and go for it when the lights go out."
Ricciardo opted to spend his off-season overseas in Los Angeles rather than return home to Australia and face two weeks of quarantine.
"It's the first Christmas in my life in 31 years of not being at home but I just worked out with the quarantine I think I would have got 10 days out of quarantine," he said.
"I kind of just weighed it up and thought it's just not worth it."
But Ricciardo said he was still reaping the benefits of his three-month stay at home where he based himself on his farm in Western Australia during the F1 shutdown last year.
"That was such a unique situation … it's hard if I'll ever be able to replicate that again for the rest of my racing career," he said.
"It was literally the most peace and privacy I have had since I was a kid.
"I had Michael there with me, my trainer, and it was like boot camp but the perfect boot camp - uninterrupted. I probably won't ever get that again, but I took a lot from it and that in itself gave me some longevity.
"It gave me a chance to reset and rebuild my body to get me through these next few years."
As he celebrates 10 years in Formula One, Ricciardo said he still has the same passion for the sport as when he started.
"I still remember (first race at) Silverstone very vividly, the whole weekend, rocking up to the circuit on the Wednesday, the driver's parade," he said.
"I still remember seeing a few Aussie flags and Mark Webber was standing next to me and nudged me and said 'A few of those are for you now'. I was like 'I'm pretty sure they're still for you'. I was still a bit of a no name then.
"The biggest thing that has really aided me well over the course is I just kept that enjoyment factor.
"Certainly there is a time to be serious with a sport and to take it seriously and let's say be professional but I have always kept that flair or enjoyment, it's why I started racing as a kid.
"It was never with the vision to be in F1 and be on TV, it was always just because I loved racing, I loved the competition, I wanted to try and be better than the guys next to me and that's ultimately what drove me and what kept the passion.
"I think as long as I keep that as the driving factor then I think that will keep me in it, keep me enjoying it and give me that longevity in the sport."
RICCIARDO HOPEFUL FOR HOME GP
Australian star Daniel Ricciardo says he will not be "fussy" about whether the Australian Grand Prix retains its traditional season-opening slot in the future but hopes the postponed event can have a "proper crack" with crowds later this year.
After the cancellation of the 2020 event at Albert Park, Ricciardo will have to wait an extra eight months to race at his home Grand Prix in his first year with McLaren after the event was shifted from March to November.
Moving from its coveted position as the F1 season-opener, the Australian Grand Prix, which was scheduled to be held on March 18-21, will now be held from November 18-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Melbourne race will now be the third-last event on the 2021 F1 calendar before the final two races in Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.
Bahrain will now host the opening race of the F1 season on March 28.
Ricciardo hoped the event shift would allow the full experience with crowds later in the year.
"Obviously last year was tantalisingly close, it was cruel to get there and for it not to happen," Ricciardo said ahead of the McLaren 2021 launch.
"Looking at this year, I would love to get there next month, but if going there in November means that we can do it properly and maybe get the fans back and have a real experience of the Aussie Grand Prix then I'm all for it.
"I see it as a let's be a little bit patient and then do it properly and I think that approach of pushing it to November is actually good.
"In Australia you are approaching summer, it's normally just a cool time of the year … and everyone is in good spirits that late November window. Hopefully the world is more normal then and we can have a proper crack."
The event shift has raised questions about the best date for the Australian Grand Prix in the future, but Ricciardo just wanted the race to stay on the calendar.
"Whether it's the opener, or say in November, I think the biggest thing is not to be greedy," Ricciardo said.
"I feel privileged to have an Aussie Grand Prix so I'm not going to be fussy and sad if it's not the opener.
"As long as it's on the calendar then I'll take that all day."
Ricciardo also supported potential upgrades and changes to the Albert Park track after the event's postponement opened the door to the prospect of planned works being completed sooner, potentially before this year's race.
Australian Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott has said possible upgrades would involve tweaks to the track to "reward brave driving".
Ricciardo said he had been consulted about potential changes two years ago and gave his feedback on what would help improve racing.
"It was quite cool that they brought us drivers in on the conversation to understand what would make the race better as a spectacle and more exciting," Ricciardo said.
"It's always been a fun track to drive around but … the Sundays can sometimes be a little bit difficult for overtaking.
"I'm all for it if it helps out on the Sunday and increases more overtaking. I think just wheel to wheel battles, that's what we want."
Originally published as Ricciardo reveals big wager he wants with McLaren