Daniel Ricciardo - How he became a true Australian hero in 58 laps

March 17, 2014

Interest in Formula 1 has been questionable for some time now. With constant changes to rules and regulations, the sport has found it hard to garner support from those not obsessed with the mechanics of the high performance vehicles. The sport is now at risk of losing petrol heads as well with slower cars with less visceral pleasures than their predecessors. This has been played out with crowd attendances and television ratings in various countries. Last Sunday however Formula 1 in this country at least was rescued for another generation (in my opinion of course) by one man.

Mark Webber was often seen as a polarising figure for multiple reasons but one stood out more than the rest, Australian’s couldn't connect with him. Not in the way we can connect to Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian Grand Prix. The effervescent character, constant cheeky smile and his down to earth demeanour make him feel far more approachable than Mark did. Someone you would love to share a beer with on a back deck.

His loveable nature has reignited interest

He reinforced our love for the sport not through the incredible engineering feats carried out in the background but by the characters that make the story line about so much more than just a race. For so long we have missed the characters such as Ayrton Senna within the sport, replaced by robots as perfectly engineered as the cars they drive.

For Australia and Daniel Ricciardo it was a welcome return to the characters of the past to which we can relate. Not only did he provide an amazing result on the day he also sent waves around the country with his post race speech.

“To be the first Aussie on the Aussie podium. I am just speechless. I’m tripping balls.

A genuine Australian reaction to a result he had no doubt dreamed of since he was a child, an achievement the rest of the country could only dream of. For Daniel not to trot out the typical PR scripted media response only endeared us to his personality and character further and proved he was ready to take the mantle as a ‘real’ Aussie hero.

Controversy struck late Sunday night

Daniel was stripped of his podium placing. A supposed error by the Redbull Racing team has essentially stripped him of his childhood dream. No outburst and no blame laid, Daniel has taken his punishment and will appeal the decision. However by being stripped of his podium finish our love for him has grown. The official records may in fact show that Daniel never finished on the podium at the race but he did win over an entire country in just 58 laps.

We know from our previous studies into Australian values and our ongoing investigation into cultural drivers and forces, brands can definitely learn from Daniel. He shows us that approachability, a measurable trait for any brand, is not only about being down to earth, cheeky and playing the underdog card when needed but about imperfection in character. Showing real human influence or interaction through imperfection can only be a positive for a brand if done correctly.