Ricciardo on Earnhardt: I want to be F1's Intimidator

Daniel Ricciardo models his aggressive racing style on childhood hero Dale Earnhardt.

Since his 2012 debut seven-time grand prix winner Ricciardo has forged a reputation as one of Formula One's best overtakers. The Australian, who famously described his approach as "lick the stamp and send it", has made a habit of late-braking manoeuvres other drivers might not attempt.

He credits this mindset with NASCAR legend Earnhardt, who inspired Ricciardo's decision to race with the number three. Earnhardt, whose hard-nosed racing style earned the 'Intimidator' nickname, died 20 years ago in an accident at the 2001 Daytona 500.

"I remember vividly the race 20 years ago," Ricciardo said in his first media appearance for new F1 team McLaren.

"I was crying, I was crying, I called my friend at the time, Steven, we raced go-karts together, and he was also a big Earnhardt fan. I called him and we basically cried on the phone together."

Referencing his own nickname, the Honey Badger, Ricciardo said this was his take on the way Earnhardt raced, which he got to do when given the chance to race for Red Bull in 2014.

"He was a hero for sure and it was really in 2014 when I took on the number three, and I also had it in the back of my mind to take on 'The Intimidator', my version of that was the honey badger.

"I felt it was my year to make a bit of a statement, to be the guy that was, let's say, not afraid to put on a big move, to race hard, I didn't feel I'd quite had that yet and that first year with Red Bull was the first chance to make that statement and to earn that reputation.

"For sure part of that was on the back of Earnhardt and how he inspired me."

The F1 season starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.