Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that Red Bull still paid his podium bonus, despite later being disqualified from the race result at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo is set to celebrate his 200th Formula 1 race start this weekend in Belgium, and took the opportunity to reflect on some of the key moments in his career, including his first race to his first win, but his ‘first podium’ also sticks in his memory for both positive and negative reasons.
Having spent half a season with HRT before moving to Toro Rosso for 2012 and 2013, the young Australian was promoted to Red Bull to replace follow countryman Mark Webber and it was in his debut race in front of a home crowd that he claimed his maiden podium when he finished second Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.
However the celebrations didn’t last long and the stewards disqualified Ricciardo due to an illegal fuel flow rate throughout the race. Despite that disappointment, there were positives to take from the race.
“It was definitely, I would say on the surface, more of a wake,” Ricciardo told the In The Fast Lane podcast when asked about his emotions following confirmation of the decision to disqualify him from his first ever F1 podium finish.
“I think internally there was some celebrating inside me, because I knew what I’d achieved on that weekend. I’d kind of ticked the box to myself that ‘OK I can do this, I can race at the front’.
“I remember I had a lot of mates there and we’d kind of organised a few drinks in the hotel room, and I remember the bathtub was full of ice and drinks, but it wasn’t really the atmosphere to go.
“Actually it was when I got to the room, when everyone was there, that I got the call from Jonathan Wheatley [Red Bull’s Sporting Director], telling me what I knew was coming, but he confirmed it. There was a few hugs and whatever, but it was pretty mellow unfortunately.”
Despite the obvious disappointment, Ricciardo revealed that team boss Christian Horner promised to still pay his podium bonus – at that time Red Bull drivers earned the majority of their salary through success bonuses for podiums and race wins.
“I think what cheered me up is – I’m sure they won’t mind me saying this, actually it puts them in good light – I think the day after, I think it was Christian called me and said, ‘Look, we’ll still pay your podium bonus’.
“So that was nice. That softened the blow a little bit! That was like my first real pay cheque in the sport, so I was quite happy.”
Ricciardo would go on to secure his proper first podium just a few races later in Spain, which he followed up with another podium and then his maiden race win – his first of three that year. He has since won a total of seven races in his career, his last coming at the 2018 Monaco GP.