Although relatively uncommon, some Formula 1 drivers do have engrossing epithets alongside their actual names. For instance, Red Bull F1 driver Sergio Perez has been calling himself ‘Checo’ since his F1 debut in 2011. But, of course, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything other than a mere nickname for ‘Sergio’ in Mexican. Interestingly though, one cannot say the same about Daniel Ricciardo and his world-famous stage name.
The fan-favorite Australian flaunts a rather unique nickname and often calls himself the ‘Honey Badger’. Yes, that is indeed the name of an animal. Hailing from the Otter family, the Honey Badgers are commonly found in several parts of Africa. Despite portraying a friendly figure, these tiny omnivores are indeed hyper-aggressive and could well attack anyone that gets alarmingly close to them.
Sometimes you gotta ask yourself, what would the honey badger do? pic.twitter.com/xf1dzWwhl1
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) August 23, 2015
Hence, one might wonder why Ricciardo would pick the Honey Badger of all the animals that prevail on Earth. Truth be told, Ricciardo has often revealed the reason behind his strange choice during several interviews. The AlphaTauri driver reckoned he carries similar characteristic traits to the notoriously bold creatures.
‘Fearless’ Daniel Ricciardo relates himself to the Honey Badger
During an interview with GQ Magazine in 2014, the then-Red Bull driver broke his silence on his nickname amidst growing speculations. “It’s supposed to be the most fearless animal in the animal kingdom. When you look at it, he seems quite cute and cuddly,” he said.
“But as soon as someone crosses his territory in a way he doesn’t like, he turns into a bit of a savage and he’ll go after anything – tigers, pythons. He turns very quickly. But he’s a good guy.”
Indeed, the Badgers are quite fearless and would do anything to defend their territory while co-existing on land that houses a range of far bigger and scarier beasts. Quite ironically, there was an occasion where Ricciardo failed to incorporate the characteristic of a Badger.
Honey badger is riding with me this year. pic.twitter.com/3EuWeuyzTv
— Daniel Ricciardo (@danielricciardo) March 14, 2013
Back in 2017, Ricciardo encountered a new challenge in Max Verstappen, who Red Bull cherished as potentially the greatest find of their junior academy. As expected, the Australian dominated the first season as Verstappen’s teammate and even went on to overlap the Dutchman in the championship standings.
However, it was in the year 2018 that many sensed Red Bull’s minor priority shift towards the rapidly evolving Verstappen. Shockingly, despite the looming Verstappen threat, Ricciardo opted against defending his number 1 role, and instead walked out of the team, supposedly seeking a new challenge. The entire motorsport community is aware of how that played out for the ‘Honey Badger’.
Regardless, will the racing world witness a more aggressive and ruthless version of Ricciardo amid his return to F1 after the brief lay-off in 2023?