Daniel Ricciardo – it's all about the power and control | Pirelli
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Daniel Ricciardo – it's all about the power and control

While he is eager to learn about all things French, he admits there's still plenty about him that's Italian: his father was born in Italy and so were his mother's parents. A well-known Formula One driver, 30 years old, and with seven grand prix wins behind him, today Daniel Ricciardo is at Renault, but many people wanted to see him (and still want to see him) at Ferrari. And that's because, leaving aside his Australian nationality, within Ricciardo there's a lot that's very Italian.
“I grew up in Australia and I love Australia; it's a beautiful country,” says Ricciardo. “But I lived in Italy for a couple of years when I was coming up through the junior formulas and I definitely feel that there's a lot about me and my family that's Italian.
“When we're sat down at the table together eating a plate of pasta, the passion of it makes me and my family a very, very Italian group of people. I'm proud of that.”

Pirelli's most famous advertising slogan is: “Power is Nothing Without Control”. What does this mean to you in terms of F1 racing? 

You rely on control. When I started driving, it was all about the passion, but I had to learn how to channel it in a disciplined way. So it was then that I had to learn all about control, even if it went against my nature; against the instinct that inspires you to push to the maximum. 

Ever since I was a child I've been super-competitive. Dreams were my fuel, and I had so many of them. But I had to learn to control all of them, to use my talent in the most efficient way. And that was an important journey to help me reach Formula One. Our cars are very delicate; you can probably drive them using muscle power alone, but only for a few laps. In the end, if you don't have effective control over all the different mechanisms, over all your strengths and weaknesses, you're not going anywhere.

Are there any times during a race when you have to prioritise power over control or vice versa?

Of course. When you have to gain a few places back, for example: sometimes it's inevitable that you don't worry about control and just throw yourself into it. Or if you're going for a record lap or trying to overtake someone. When you see an opportunity you often have to go for it straight away. In just a fraction of a second, the chance could be gone – and then you're left cursing yourself for having waited too long.

After all, you're one of the drivers most noted for their ability to overtake…

That wasn't always the case at the start of my career, so I had an element of surprise on my side. But I think my rivals know about that these days, so it comes back to the whole idea of control again; finding the best strategy and so on. As a driver, I think I'm able to make the most of my capabilities; my power. But you can't pull off a good overtaking move without control. Take the braking: if you're too heavy or too light on the brake pedal then that can compromise everything.

And if you want to win a championship?

No doubt about it: if you want to win a championship you've got to get everything absolutely right. And that's where control counts for more than power.

What do you think could improve Formula One even more as a spectacle: more power or more control?

Today we've got something that looks really good as a show from the outside, with all the different things going on around the race. But in the race itself, there's some overtaking missing. We're driving extremely fast cars, but when you find yourself in the wake of another car and you want to overtake, the aerodynamic turbulence is such that it's almost impossible to keep going. So in my opinion this compromises the human element a bit; the chance you have to use all your potential. I think that the technical regulations should allow the driver more scope to use and demonstrate their talent in a way that's a bit more free. Technology is important, but people get excited about the human side.

It's often said that tyres have a big influence in Formula One. What's the most important thing to get the most out of them, power or control?

You can't really make the distinction, it's both. With power you get the maximum speed, and you get the most out of the tyres. But, of course, you need control to avoid getting your braking wrong or locking up and flat-spotting your tyres, which might mean you need another pit-stop. And if that happens, you kiss goodbye to your chance of a decent result.

What do you plan to do when your career as a driver is over?

I wouldn't mind sticking around racing, as long as it was in a meaningful role. But I might also do something that's nothing to do with racing at all; as long as it's to do with competition. And that's it really; I wouldn't be interested in doing anything without competition.

Apart from tyres, what do you automatically associate Pirelli with?

No doubt about it: the Calendar. And I'm not just thinking of the supermodels. I like the photography and the whole style that makes the calendar stand out. I've been getting it regularly for a few years now and I love it; it's an icon. The Pirelli logo is iconic as well; it speaks for itself – it's modern and traditional at the same time. The long P in Pirelli is a bit like the long F in Ferrari. And all the drivers get the appeal of Ferrari, no question…