Daniel Ricciardo is fast becoming one of Australia’s most bankable sports stars.
The Formula One driver’s profile has skyrocketed since joining Red Bull Racing this season, during which he’s already scored three grand prix wins and three other podium finishes.
His win in Belgium on Sunday had him once again on the podium, beating Nico Rosberg for the chequered flag after the Mercedes driver caused a crash with teammate Lewis Hamilton that ultimately cost him the win.
With a clean image and a humble approach, potential sponsors are lining up to get a piece of Daniel Ricciardo. Why risk their brands with a fiery driver when a perfectly good champion waits in the wings.
Commercial adviser Mark Jones says major companies have been expressing strong interest in Ricciardo for some time but enquiries have jumped following his recent performances.
So much so that he considers him in the “same commercial vein” as big money-making golfers Adam Scott and Jason Day, and high-profile NBA basketballers Andrew Bogut and Dante Exum.
Bogut last year was ranked Australia’s best-paid sportsperson on BRW’s rich list, earning $16 million in 2013.
Scott was a close second with $15.5 million – more than half of which came off-course, thanks to sponsorship deals with the likes of Mercedes-Benz and Rolex.
“My belief is that Daniel has always been a highly marketable athlete and personality,” said Jones, managing director of The Sports Group.
“He’s a complete professional in the car and within the sport of F1.
“He’s also a fantastic guy outside of the car with a fantastic insight and natural flair in marketing and media environments.
“This is a powerful combination from a commercial perspective.”
Jones says factors which help determine Ricciardo’s marketability and worth have increased this year – including coverage in global media and exposure on social media.
“The fact that Daniel has made a significant impact on Formula One and the fact that he has won three races to date has certainly grown the level of interest,” he said.
“I believe it’s accurate to view Daniel in the same commercial vein as the Australian athletes who are performing strongly in the biggest sporting environments in the world.
“Athletes such as Adam Scott, Jason Day, Andrew Bogut, Dante Exum … are the type of athletes Daniel can very strongly sit beside in commercial contexts.”
It was reported earlier this month that Ricciardo was on a base salary of $1.1 million, while his four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel was being paid $31.7 million.
However, Fairfax Media has his estimated annual wage closer to $3.65 million, plus a bonus of up to $2 million for each race win – as was the case last year for countryman and Red Bull predecessor Mark Webber.