Daniel Ricciardo is often all smiles, but there’s one element in his life that makes him transform into what he describes as a “psychopath”.
The jokes, the famous smile and the quick wit that fires as fast as a cowboy from the best shooter in the wild west.
That’s the Daniel Ricciardo we see in the public eye. But what about the other side behind closed doors, especially when things aren’t rosy?
Stream Every Practice, Qualifier & Race of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship™ Live & On-Demand on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start Your Free Trial >
As it turns out, the Australian’s competitive streak makes him a whole different person.
In fact, the 32-year-old transforms into a self-confessed “f****** psychopath” and has even injured himself when that competitive nature takes the wheel from his emotions.
Such a ruthless spirit when it comes to sport is critical in high-pressure environments, none more so than in F1.
But Ricciardo’s obsessive desire to win certainly did not begin when he entered the sport.
It came much, much earlier.
“As a kid, I was always a raw competitor in everything, whether it was table tennis or a game of Uno, I just hated losing,” Ricciardo told Autosport.
“And I think over the years and probably maturity, I’ve felt better with defeat.
“But I’m still in some ways a sore loser where I just f*****g hate it, you know?
“So when I flip or have those moments of rage, it’s when I believe I could have done it.
“The times when I was miles off, I wasn’t throwing chairs because it was more of a case of ‘hands up, I don’t know what to do’.
“But if it’s a situation where I’m a tenth off, but I know the tenth was on the table and I didn’t get it, that’s when it just eats me inside.”
The frustration of knowing a better result was attainable is something Ricciardo would take out on himself physically, but he’s become wiser in terms of venting his anger in better ways.
But no matter what, the scent of any competition transforms the Perth native into a different beast.
“I’m probably better at channelling that now and I’ve kind of injured myself breaking things in the past, so it’s not smart either,” Ricciardo said.
“Michael, my trainer, knows when I’m like this to kind of hug me and restrain me until I calm down!
“It’s funny because people probably wouldn’t expect that from me — I’m an easygoing, happy guy — but when there’s competition in place, I’m a bit of a f*****g psychopath I guess.”
Ricciardo will tap into that crazy side of himself for the penultimate time this year at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Monday morning, with lights out scheduled for 4:30am (AEDT).