Just over a third of the way through the season, Daniel has racked up three podiums in a row, two other top five finishes and 67 Drivers' Championship points. So, as we head towards race eight, in Azerbaijan, we grabbed Daniel in Canada to talk career firsts, caravanning, and being conned...
Another podium in Canada to add to your first win there in 2014. What do you remember about that maiden victory?
I actually got it tattooed on my butt cheeks – June the 8th, 2014. It was a pretty awesome day; I remember it pretty vividly. The whole race was kind of chaotic. I remember we got to a point where Mercedes started running into problems and I looked at the cars in front and thought 'OK, I'm third, this is cool, I'm on the podium now'. At the time I still hadn't had many podiums and it was still cool and then I was like 'wait maybe we can do better than third'. Then I could see Nico start to come back towards us and I thought 'that's the lead'. I could see him struggling and I thought 'if I get Perez I have a real chance of winning this' - and I got him. I remember that moment pretty vividly: standing on the podium and all the people. There were a lot of Australian flags, which was kind of a surprise. I'll never forget it.
I remember that moment pretty vividly; standing on the podium.
Your 20th podium in F1 came in Spain. The form has been pretty good, and you bagged another in Canada, so how good does that feel right now?
I've never thought about milestones, to be honest. It's not really a milestone is it? I guess they're starting to add up – 20 podiums; that's cool, I like that. Give me more! I can foresee more in the future.
We're in Baku for race eight. How would you sum up the season so far? Would you say there have been some ups and some downs?
Definitely. I would say we wanted to be better than we are. It's nice to come off a few podiums in a row, but we would have loved to have a record like Seb – firsts and seconds all the way. But look, we are aware of where we are now, so we have just got to keep chipping away. I do feel we've learned more in the past couple of races than we had all season [to that point] and that's definitely going to speed things up.
We've seen you involved in lots of off-track action this year, including caravanning in Austria and dinghy racing in Melbourne. How much do you enjoy that kind of thing?
I certainly enjoy doing the more fun side of the marketing events we do. The caravan one was fun. Max and myself flew quite early that morning and when you've got an early flight you're never that stoked, so we weren't buzzing about it but as soon as we saw the caravans and got behind the wheel our day changed completely. We were totally losing it. Anyone who has seen the video can tell how genuine the laughter is.
We did some white water rafting in Montreal, which was nice. I think anything outdoors is fun. To get there we had to travel a bit, so we saw different parts of the city and at least you feel like you've experienced something other than just race track and hotel.
At the start of the year there was a lot of talk about fitness in F1, a lot of extra pre-season work was going in, including the work you did in California. Have you seen the benefit of that?
In the mirror, for sure! Actually, it was a bit of a con in the end, because the car weight kind of crept up and we couldn't actually be that much heavier. I can tell you that my weight in Monaco was the same as I was last year. I did put on a bit more muscle in the off-season but I had to get that off for the racing.
I still feel a bit stronger than last year but we couldn't put on as much as we wanted. I finish the races still feeling strong so I think I'm at a good level, but it would be nice to carry a bit more muscle for the summer, because I like my beaches!
Have you noticed a bigger physical demand?
Yeah, I've noticed a little bit. For sure it's a bit more physical but I feel I've got stronger so that balances it out. I definitely see that with some of the rookies that maybe haven't done the work and the last 10 or 15 laps of a race become a little bit painful.