How a life-changing chat with F1 icon Michael Schumacher helped set a young Daniel Ricciardo on the road to motor sport stardom: ‘I thought he was god’
- Ricciardo held off Schumacher as they chased the points at the 2012 Japan Grand Prix
- The Aussie rates it as one of the three best drives of his Formula One career
- He revealed how words of encouragement from the icon affected him
Daniel Ricciardo has revealed how he gained a lot of confidence when legendary driver Michael Schumacher gave him some choice words of encouragement as he was starting out in the sport.
The Aussie F1 star was driving for Toro Rosso in 2012 – his first year in the sport, aged just 23 – when he held off the German great for 17 laps as they chased the points at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
Ricciardo finished 10th, won the final points of the race, and labeled the effort one of the top three drives of his career, saying he was surprised by his ability to defend against the seven-time world champ.
‘I even scared him that time. Obviously I was like, he’s god,’ Riccciardo recalled.
Ricciardo – pictured in the pits at the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix – rated his drive that year at Suzuka as one of the three best of his career after he held off Michael Schumacher.
The man was the last German icon in the sport after he ended a brief retirement to race for Mercedes (pictured) – and his words had a huge impact on the young Aussie
But what happened in the next race will stay with the Perth-born star forever.
‘That was a very important race for me, which was not talked about because I finished 10th,’ he told Speedcafe. ‘But personally, for me, it’s really big.
‘ This was followed by his congratulating me [at] the following race in the parade of drivers. I remember him coming up and saying, ‘Nice job last week defending.’
That, for me, to get a little confirmation from someone like that, at that age and at that point in my career, was huge.
The two drivers’ lives took different paths after that season, with Ricciardo moving up to Red Bull in 2013 to replace fellow Aussie Mark Webber (pictured together).
Schumacher was knocked unconscious in a horror skiing accident in December 2013, put into a medically induced coma and is now cared for by his wife and a medical team.
‘Maybe he didn’t realize at the time what he was doing, but he boosted my confidence a lot.’
This will be Schumacher’s final season in F1 after he came out of brief retirement to race for Mercedes for two years.
In December 2013, he suffered a horrific skiing accident that resulted in him being placed in a medically induced coma.
He was taken to the family home in Lake Geneva in September 2014 where a team of medical staff now supports his wife Corinna in caring for the 53-year-old.
Ricciardo drove for Toro Rosso for another season before being promoted to the Red Bull team, where he replaced fellow Aussie Mark Webber and recorded seven of his eight grand prix victories.