Work / Life: Formula 1 Driver

A day in the life of…
Daniel Ricciardo

What’s your job responsibility?
I’m responsible for getting the most out of the car on Sunday! Away from that, it’s about making the team happy and proud and putting on a show for the fans. I like putting in some bold overtakes, getting my elbows out to defend hard and make sure I do everyone’s hard work justice to make everyone cheer for the right reasons.

Describe a typical day in your job?
Step One: For a race day, I wake up pretty excited because it’s finally Sunday. I feel like sometimes race week is a bit of a tease and by Sunday we’re ready to go.

Step Two: I make sure I have a good breakfast, start by hydrating early with some water, get in a good meal, stay relaxed and have a stretch.

Step Three: Then I head to the track, do a bit of media, some engineering meetings and strategy meetings to discuss the race and the potential outcomes.

Step Four: Then I have another stretch and some time to myself followed by a simple vegetable based lunch.

Step Five: During the drivers’ parade, I might mingle with the other drivers or I will put my headphones on and do my own thing.

Step Six: Before the race I get nice and warm, put some music on to get focused and in the zone. I don’t like any distractions at that time.

Step Seven: Being on the grid is the coolest part of the race for me, that’s where all the energy is. You might get some VIPs, celebrities and conduct a lot of interviews. I like to put the headphones on, get a song ready for the day and use that to get in the zone. I like to have a dance around, get loose. Then the lights go out and shit becomes real.

Step Eight: After the race and after the interviews, I have engineering meetings and I make sure I have a good drink as you’re usually dehydrated. If it’s a European race I will fly home that night, reflect on the race and see what went well or if there’s anything to improve on.

How did you get the job?
I loved sports growing up and I was always very active. If I had the choice, I’d always choose to be outside, instead of playing on the games console inside.

With motorsports, my dad raced a bit when he was younger, so I’d spend weekends at the track watching him. I guess I got some of that passion through him. I was fascinated by the noise and the speed. At school other kids were playing football or rugby, not many raced and that was an opportunity to be different, and I liked that feeling.

From there it was karting, into single-seaters and racing in Europe and later into Formula 1.

What is your most memorable moment so far?
It’s always special to win a Formula 1 race, so to experience that seven times is a great feeling. The Monaco win in 2018 was particularly satisfying.

What’s the worst part of your job?
All the photo shoots! The reality is we spend more time in front of a camera than behind the wheel! You don’t think of that as a kid, you always think you’ll be racing 90% of the time. It’s probably around 20% sat in a race car and that’s the part you have to adjust to in the job. Formula 1 is not only a sport, but a big business and that is how it works.

And the best part of your job?
We’re very fortunate to travel the world with our job, and I know I have friends who would love to do that. We drive the fastest cars in some pretty cool places where the weather is, most of the time, very good.

How do you unwind?
I’m a big fan of music and I enjoy discovering new artists, new songs and going to gigs. I like playing tennis, watching AFL, going back to Australia in the off-season to chill out with friends.

What do you do before going to sleep?
I listen to podcasts. I pretty much fall asleep listening to podcasts every night. I like them and it’s a way of me zoning out. If there are things on my mind, then I’ll listen to a podcast. Some people read before bed and listening to podcasts is my way of switching off.

If you weren’t doing your job, what would you be doing? Semi-realistically, I’d say tennis. I played a lot of sports as a kid and tennis was my second favourite. I’ve always liked individual sports and having a bit more responsibility on myself, so tennis would have been the path I would have pursued.