Daniel Ricciardo has been racing at F1 level for some time now but it appears the Aussie superstar still has plenty to learn.

The 30-year-old is having a difficult transition to his new team Renault, with his ninth-placed effort at Monaco on the weekend just his second top 10 finish of the season.

The affable Aussie revealed to former F1 world champion Nico Rosberg on his podcast Beyond Victory he had to learn how to play mind games as the skill didn't come easily to him.

Rosberg quickly one-upped Ricciardo with some tales of F1 legend Michael Schumacher, who showed he was not only the best on the track, but also the king at getting into the heads of his opponents — and teammates.

Daniel Ricciardo added the ruthless streak behind the smile. Photo / Getty
Daniel Ricciardo added the ruthless streak behind the smile. Photo / Getty

Ricciardo had to learn to be ruthless as he progressed through the ranks and recalled the time one of his coaches taught him how to freak out a rival in his younger days.

"I would have been 14 and we were on the grid, we had been fierce rivals through the whole championship and knew we didn't really like each other," Ricciardo told Rosberg. "He (Ricciardo's coach) said, 'Go up and wish him good luck'. I kind of laughed and he said, 'Go do it. It's just before the race, he's trying to focus and get in his rhythm. You will completely break him if you go up, shake his hand and wish him good luck. He'll be lost, he won't know what to do'.

"And I could tell as soon as I did it — and it was awkward for me but it was more awkward for him — I remember his handshake, it was a bit limp and he was completely caught off guard."

But if this is Ricciardo's biggest use of mind games, he has nothing on what Rosberg had to deal with.

Rosberg was teammates with Schumacher at Mercedes when the F1 great came out of retirement in 2010. After three seasons, Schumacher was replaced by Lewis Hamilton but the F1 great made Rosberg's life difficult.

Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Photo / Getty
Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg. Photo / Getty

"I had Michael Schumacher as my teammate," Rosberg said. "This guy for three years (was) Mr Mind Games. He doesn't even have to think about it, it just comes natural to him. It's just the way he is. So that was a big, big learning curve.

"The warrior mentality that Michael had was phenomenal and living and breathing it every single day — sometimes to extreme — but always trying to get into my head. From the morning to the evening he was just trying to get into my head and trying to ruin my self confidence."

Rosberg pointed out a specific example of Schumacher's mental warfare from a qualifying session in Monaco one year.


"There's only one toilet in the garage and so he's in the toilet and I go down and it's 10 minutes before and I know that I have my two-minute session now for the last pee, then jump in the car and go, qualifying," Rosberg said.

Michael "Mr Mind Games" Schumacher. Photo / Getty

"So I knock on the door because it's always locked. 'Nico here, please let me in' because usually it's the mechanics who will then know in this moment I have to be the priority. No answer, nothing. So I'm like knocking, knocking — no answer, locked — but I can hear that someone's in there.

"Here was Michael, in the toilet, leaning against the wall looking at his watch and he knew as long as he made it out with three minutes to go, he could just about jump in the car, put the seat belts on and go before losing actual time and ruining the whole team strategy of qualifying.

"He's in there looking at his watch, just like chilling out, counting down, and I'm outside in full panic mode because I can't go in qualifying with a full bladder, it absolutely sucks like anything.

"There's no options for me. I went for the oil bucket option in the corner. There was no option. Mechanics working and running around and I'm just there. I managed to do what I needed to do but the panic had such an impact on my qualifying.

"While I'm with my oil bucket, the door opens, Michael walks out and as soon as he leaves from the corner he starts walking faster because he knows it's like two seconds to go until qualifying. And these games all day long."

Ricciardo agreed going on the track with a full bladder is far from ideal and called Schumacher's tactic "ruthless".

Rosberg also admitted Schumacher's aim was to show him that he didn't matter in his life in the three years the men were teammates. He said it was "never unfair or evil" but it walked a fine line.

Ricciardo said mind games were fun but incredibly taxing.

"It takes a lot of energy to constantly be one step ahead and play those games," he said. "It probably does come quite naturally to some people, but I think it has to take something away from them, even though they are getting the upper hand."