“I would ask kids who want to be drivers today – do you want it out of passion or because you want to be like Daniel Ricciardo, smiling in commercials?” the Canadian told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Ricciardo doesn’t believe his marketing value outside of the car has undermined his perceived driving ability, but the eight-time grand prix winner has clarified that his time away refocused his mindset towards racing.
Asked if he thinks his bubbly persona has clouded the narrative surrounding his driving, particularly during his rough spell at McLaren, Ricciardo answered: I would say, in short, no. I think, look, we’ve all certainly… all of our profiles have grown, in the last few years, in particular, since Drive to Survive.
“So we’ve all kind of felt a bit of that. I think just me with my personality, and also just having some fun with the sport. Yeah, that probably got a little bigger as well, because of that. It draws a few LOLs every now and then, but I think generally, first and foremost, I certainly see myself as a race car driver, not an entertainer or anything like that.
“It is funny sometimes, people come up to me like: ‘you were great in that season’ and I’m [like] ‘racing season – or Drive to Survive season?’ So yeah, for sure, to some, we’re maybe not all viewed as race car drivers. But yeah, it’s just it’s part of it.
“But I think we’re all also, as I said, building profiles and a bit of a brand, but it’s not anything that’s taken away from the racing side of it. And that’s first and foremost.
“And I think that’s, for sure, through all of this, it can maybe get away from you a little bit of time so me coming back into it this year and having a little bit of that time off, it certainly made me kind of just figure out what I’m about, I guess, moving forward and how I want to go racing.
“Probably just removing a few things and kind of going back to a little bit of the basics. And yeah, just making sure that I am seen as a as a race car driver who’s still hungry and determined and not someone who’s just here for a good time.”