On-track, he’s turning more heads than Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. And with some new components, a solid testing session in Italy and a sixth-placed qualifying effort in Bahrain, the Perth lad is on the verge of cracking the first podium finish of his career over the next three rounds – three of his favourite tracks…
Red Bull: But more importantly, Daniel, apart from yourself, who are the best lads on tour?
Daniel Ricciardo: You don’t really speak to the current F1 drivers other than on the track just because of the schedule. I speak to Mark (Webber) a bit. But away from the track I’ve got my trainer and if we’re at home in England we’re training everyday, so there’s not much free time. It’s pretty full-on with all the travelling. And if we’re not travelling we’re training. It’s pretty much a full-time thing.
RB: So there is a downside to being a world-famous Formula 1 driver…
DR: Nah. But it’s cool. I’ve got the European summer coming up and some family coming over to give me some company and hopefully a few mates will wander through Europe as well. It’s a good time of the year to get a little bit of down time during the summer break.
RB: This personal trainer you speak of, are we talking Biggest Loser-type fitness fanatic? What’s a training schedule like to prepare one to fly around a track at 300-plus kmh?
DR: It varies between different times of the season like most sports. If we had a week to ourselves now, it’d be based around two sessions a day. The morning would be a full-body strength session. No heavy weights but more for power and resistance. You can’t afford to put on too much muscle really because it’s a light weight sport. Then in the afternoon we’ll do an endurance session. We’ll sit on the bike for 90 minutes or so and maybe do some intervals. It’s pretty much a full-body work-out. And I’ll do some neck training as well for the G-forces – I’ll strap a belt around my head with some weights around the end of it.
RB: Whooaaaa there. Hold up. A belt around your head? Tell us more. We’re picturing dad’s old leather belt with a couple of house bricks wrapped around the end of it… What’s the story there?
DR: That’s pretty much it! I hang it off the side of the bench or something and do lifts with it a few times a week and try and get a footballer’s neck happening! Haha. I’ve never brought it to the circuit, it’s all at home. It’s not one you want to show too many people… There are some high tech machines out there which would be amazing to have a crack at but this is just like a head strap with a few weights on the end of it.
RB: Wow. Any another out-there practice procedures?
DR: Nah, the neck and the core are pretty much the two main things you need for a 90 minute to two-hour race.
RB: What about your diet leading up to a race – what does that consist of? Wheat grass, calves’ blood, myriad protein powders…
DR: Nah, I keep it pretty simple. No heavy foods, nothing that’s saucy or anything. Race weekends lunch will be more carbs with a bit of protein – say pasta with a bit of chicken and salad. And dinner will be a steak with a little bit or rice. And then you add your veggies or whatever. It’s a matter of not keeping it too heavy.
RB: So there’s no room for ice-cream or chocolate then, we take it…
DR: Mate, there’s always room for chocolate! There is ALWAYS room for chocolate. I love chocolate. Put it this way, I don’t eat as much as I could because that wouldn’t be professional, I probably wouldn’t fit in the car and I wouldn’t have a six-pack! Haha. But anyway, there’s at least one day a week I give myself a treat.
RB: What’s the guilty pleasure? Large tub of Nutella and pop-rocks…
DR: Ice-cream! I love it. Ben and Jerry’s is very good, Haagen-Dazs is amazing and they take the cake for me. Movenpick is very good, too. Hell, they’re all good! And it tastes so good I don’t even feel bad eating it. It’s like natural yogurt I reckon. I’ll take some Cadbury chocolate any day, too!
RB: Ok, let’s wrap it up before the big race Sunday. You were in Italy last week for testing. Did you get back to that little old village outside of Milan you called home as a teenager a few years back when you first made the move?
DR: Yes! I was in Italy for the full week and did visit and hang out in the old stomping ground from 2008. It’s been a while since I’ve been there. I wanted to a few of the restaurants I used to live at and a few of the ice-cream places that I also used to live at. And say hi to the little old landlady. I’m sure she misses me!
RB: OK, Milan is known for one thing and that is models. Now, Jenson Button is dating a model, Lewis Hamilton is dating a Pussycat Doll and the fact you’re pretty much a rock star these days, can we expect to see you dating super models anytime soon?
DR: Mate, I’m low key! Just a normal guy doing my best… I won’t get wrapped up in any of that.
RB: We’ll ask you the same question again in a couple of years then when you’re an F1 superstar…. Anything else crazy going on?
DR: Not really. Well, other than driving Formula 1 race cars…