In the fourth episode of BTSW Season 3, we speak with Daniel Ricciardo, the rising Formula One star and Aussie racing champ. In it, he reveals how he was a "questionable" student with ants in his pants during high school, and talks about his decision to move to Italy at age 17 in pursuit of his F1 dreams.
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Hey guys, Daniel Ricciardo here. Formula 1 driver from the great city of Perth, Australia and today I'm going Back to School with Student Edge.
Hi I'm Simon Miraudo and today we're going back to school with Formula 1 racer Daniel Ricciardo.
What were you like as a student.
Umm, oh, questionable. I was okay. If I got told off it was just because I was talking or fidgeting too much. I was very... I think one teacher actually asked if I had a problem, because I couldn't sit still, and I think she asked my mum one day, "Is Daniel okay?"
I just had ants in my pants all the time. I couldn't sit still for very long, so my attention span was not great. I was good at sport; sport was my favourite, at lunch time. But no, to be honest, it was fine. I look back at school and I think it teaches you some discipline and everything.
In terms of subjects, I was just getting by. I was never really in love with any subject in particular. I think to be honest it was because I was so driven by racing. From a young age, I was just fixated on becoming a racing driver. So school was, at the time, a way to just get by and make some friends. Not a priority. I probably shouldn't say that.
No, we want the honest truth. Because I understand that you started carting at around 9, is that correct?
Did you have a passion for cars prior to that, or was that the thing that opened up the world.
No, I think I was 2 years old and I remember being addicted to the noise of cars And then, when I was 3 and 4, watching it on the TV, sitting on the couch with dad. So, to be honest, I was watching all sports. Like, I can remember watching lawn bowls as well when i was a kid, I was fascinated.
You didn't go down that career path?
Yeah, racing was definitely what attracted me the most.
When you had that passion, did you see it as a career goal? Did you see it as like, "Okay, this is what I'm going to do with my life"? Or was it just a hobby and you've managed to finagle this fantastic career out of it? Were you planning for backups, if this didn't
I thought about backups, because yeah... It was more of a hobby. As a kid, you're like, Yeah, I want to be an F1 driver. When it actually gets down to it and you put the work in and you're like, "Okay, that's a big step to become an F1 driver. You're in Perth racing go-karts. How you gonna get to F1?" It just started off as a hobby and I enjoyed doing it more than anything else. I always liked it as well because it was a little bit different. Not really any other kid at the school was racing karts. I liked being a bit different, I guess.
So you mentioned that a passion for racing was kind of unique to you. Your schoolmates and your friends maybe didn't share it as much. When you told them that, you did want to follow this more professional route, were they surprised? Were they a bit dubious about you being able to pull it off? Or were they supportive?
My close mates were supportive. I guess they knew a little bit about what I was trying to do. But then, sort of the, I'd say, the average mate or the average classmate at the time at school, couldn't quite understand it. A lot of kids were sort of like, "Oh, go-karts. I can race go-karts. I'll beat you. Let's go this weekend and I'll beat you." You just get a bit of that. It's one of those sports as well, because not really anyone does it. And it's not accessible to everyone, it's hard to explain it and sort of tell people this is how it works and this is what it's like. I think they understand it now, which is good.
Are these the same people guys who are sending you Facebook friend requests maybe today?
There's been a couple of them.
So, you decided this was the thing you wanted to follow.
There was nothing really else that you were as passionate about. You take that to your parents and how did they react? Had they been waiting for this moment, for this conversation? Or were they a bit like, "Well, are you sure this is what you want to do?"
Yeah, they were definitely nervous about it. They never really - well, never at all - pushed me to do it. If anything, they were maybe trying to hold me back.
You've got to find something you enjoy doing. You've got to do something you love, I believe. I couldn't think of doing a job that I didn't love after experiencing all I have with this sport. So, for me it's like, in a way, if you've got to get out of your comfort zone a little bit, then do it. If you feel there's gonna be a long term gain, in terms of your happiness and life; lifestyle, then go for it.