Why is Daniel Ricciardo called 'The Honey Badger?'

Jake Nichol October 23, 2021
Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images

Nicknames in Formula One are few, but one of the most popular is Daniel Ricciardo’s – but why is the Australian called ‘The Honey Badger?’

Daniel Ricciardo in F1

Born in Perth, Australia, Ricciardo made his F1 debut at the 2011 British Grand Prix for the small HRT outfit.

He then moved across to Red Bull junior squad Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) before promotion to the main team in 2014.

Ricciardo stayed there for five years, departing at the end of 2018 for Renault.

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A two-year spell did not work out at the Enstone-based squad, as he joined Lando Norris at McLaren for 2021.

Ricciardo has never missed an F1 race in his career, and has started 204 grands prix, including eight wins.

In his time in F1, Ricciardo has carved himself a reputation as a light-hearted and fun individual.

His nickname of The Honey Badger is just one example of this, but where did the nickname come from?

Let’s take a look.

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Why is Ricciardo’s nickname The Honey Badger?

Ricciardo has long carried a picture of a Honey Badger on his race helmet, saying he can relate to the animal.

Often found across Africa and Asia, the Honey Badger is a thick-skinned, strong mammal.

It is known for its toughness and defensive instincts, and has been observed to attack prey that outsizes it.

Photo by Vyacheslav Prokofyev\TASS via Getty Images

Ricciardo believes he shares some of the same qualities of the Honey Badger, hence his adoption of the nickname.

“It is supposed to be the most fearless animal in the animal kingdom,” he told Red Bull in 2014.

“When you look at it, he seems quite cute and cuddly, but as soon as someone crosses his territory in a way he doesn’t like, he turns into a bit of a savage.

“He’ll go after anything – tigers and pythons, he turns very quickly, but he’s a good guy.”

Photo credit should read MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

Honey Badger features on special helmet

At the 2021 United States Grand Prix, Ricciardo is running a special tribute helmet to Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Earnhardt Sr was Ricciardo’s idol when he was growing up as the NASCAR icon won seven Cup championships.

Ricciardo uses Earnhardt’s iconic #3 as his race number, and his helmet design for the US GP is based on Earnhardt’s.

The helmet is black with ‘McLaren Service Plus’ written on the side.

‘The Honey Badger’ is on the back.

It is in the same font as ‘Goodwrench Service Plus’ that adorned Earnhardt’s before his death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Ricciardo will also get to drive Earnhardt’s 1984 Chevrolet machine.

McLaren boss Zak Brown promised Ricciardo he could drive it when he secured a podium with the team.

Ricciardo delivered that in the 2021 Italian GP, winning McLaren’s first race since 2012.

The car he will be driving will be Earnhardt’s Wrangler-sponsored Chevy.

The Intimidator won two races in 1984 at Talladega and Atlanta, finishing fourth in the standings.

Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.