Daniel Ricciardo has returned to late night US TV ahead of the Las Vegas Grand Prix, continuing to prove he is one of the most marketable characters on the grid.
Fresh off a week where U2 frontman Bono compared himself to the F1 veteran, Ricciardo has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live during the week.
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Speaking with Kimmel as F1 prepares for its first race in Vegas since 1982, the host asked Ricciardo: “Are women throwing their bodies at you here in the United States?”
“I find that they’re certainly not shy to say, ‘I have a crush on you’ — or they will let me know what driver they do have a crush on,” Ricciardo said.
Pressed on whether Ricciardo reckons they want him to pass it on to the driver,” he said: “Pretty much. And I think they want to know if that’s a good choice or not, so thumbs up or like: ‘Hmm, no’.”
It was deftly answered by Ricciardo, who has reportedly been in a relationship with 26-year-old model and actress Heidi Berger for some time.
Last year Ricciardo told the Fitzy & Wippa Show: “Yeah mate, I’m in love, I got a good thing going, so yeah. I’ve got a good balance in life right now.
“I think love eliminates stress, yeah absolutely.”
However, their relationship has been kept largely out of the public eye.
Ricciardo did say that in a post-Drive To Survive world, there are a whole lot more people to recognise him.
As well as possessing the most magnetic personality on the grid, Ricciardo has also been involved in some of the biggest storylines of the last few years, including his exit from Red Bull, his difficult first season at Renault, his excellent second season at the French manufacturer and his tumultuous time at McLaren.
It’s seen him front and centre on the popular Netflix show, which has been credited with increasing the sport’s popularity around the world, but particularly in the US.
But the interesting by-product is that some fans don’t realise he’s actually a real-life driver.
“It’s funny because a lot of the time now people will come up to me and say: ‘You were great in the show’,” Ricciardo said.
“So my reaction is, do they know I race or do they think I’m an actor? I look at them like ‘thanks’ but I’m kinda second guessing: do they actually know what I do?
“It’s funny, but it’s really blown up. I try to remind them but I think it goes over their head.”
And the proof that he’s a lot more recognisable is that U2 frontman Bono compared himself to Ricciardo — and his bandmates to Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc — in a brilliant scene on stage in Vegas, confirming what we already knew, that Ricciardo is the biggest rock star on the F1 grid.
Ricciardo was chuffed by the comparison.
“That was one of the greatest compliments ever,” Ricciardo said of the clip.
“It’s funny, definitely over the last couple of years since the sport has blown up there are some of those little ‘pinch me’ moments. That was quite overwhelming.”
Asked if there were any other specific moments he could think of, Ricciardo added: “Not really but even people may know me or recognise me that I’m a fan of, that’s where I’m like ‘I was meant to be fanboying you’.”
Fans were loving the Aussie’s appearance.
One said: “Daniel Ricciardo’s interview with Jimmy Kimmel is so cute.”
Another commented: “How can you not love this guy!”
Another said: “Watching Daniel Ricciardo on Jimmy Kimmel Live and I’ve only had the biggest smile on my face since the last 9 minutes.”
The amazing thing about Ricciardo’s popularity in the sport is that he’s not a world champion, having twice finished third in the driver’s championship but being a long way off at his current team of AlphaTauri.
And it’s despite having Verstappen, a current three-time World Champion, while Lewis Hamilton is a seven-time world champion, equal with Michael Schumacher for the most in the history of the sport.
Yet it’s the loveable Aussie front and centre.
Originally published as ‘Not shy’: Daniel Ricciardo comes clean on bizarre Netflix ‘crush’ effect