Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that the passing of his hero Dale Earnhardt Sr left a huge mark on him, and even served as an inspiration for his approach to Formula 1.
Thursday marks the 20th anniversary of 'The Intimidator's' passing, as a seemingly harmless accident at the 2001 Daytona 500 proved fatal. Ricciardo reflected on how strong his emotions were when news of Earnhardt's passing reached him.
"I remember the race 20 years ago vividly," Ricciardo told the media during his first appearance for new team McLaren. "My reaction to the news, I was crying. I called my friend at the time, Stephen, we raced go-karts together, and he was also a big Earnhardt fan.
"I called him as soon as I saw the news, and we just basically cried on the phone together. He was a hero, for sure."
The Australian drives with the #3 as a tribute to Earnhardt, and he admits it helped him adopt a firmer approach on track as well.
"It was really in 2014 when I took on the number three, I also had it in the back of my mind to take on The Intimidator - and obviously my version of that was 'The Honey Badger'," Ricciardo added.
"But I felt it was really my year to make a bit of a statement, to be the guy that was 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 my chance to really make that statement and to earn that reputation.
"For sure part of that was on the back of Earnhardt and how he inspired me."