Ricciardo lost "a bit of faith" after "nearly laughable" start to F1 2021

Daniel Ricciardo felt he lost “a little bit of faith” and started second-guessing himself before his Monza Formula 1 win, calling his start to 2021 with McLaren “nearly laughable”.

Ricciardo lost "a bit of faith" after "nearly laughable" start to F1 2021

Ricciardo joined McLaren on a three-year contract for the 2021 season after his exit from Renault, but initially failed to match team-mate Lando Norris for pace.

Norris scored three podium finishes and more than double the points of Ricciardo before the summer break as the Australian struggled through the first half of the season.

But Ricciardo responded in emphatic fashion by scoring McLaren’s first win for almost nine years in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, leading home Norris for a 1-2 finish.

Ricciardo took to his radio after winning the race to tell his McLaren team: “Deep down I knew this was going to come, so thanks for having my back. And for anyone who thought I left, I never left. Just moved aside for a while.”

Ricciardo explained how the message was directed not only at those who had written him off, but also at himself after conceding he had some doubts and questions arise.

“I appreciate that message was going to be directed at I guess people who did maybe think that I'd checked out, and that I was on my way out or a little bit washed up or whatever,” Ricciardo said in an end-of-season interview including Autosport.

“But still, first and foremost, that message was for me because there were times where I did lose a little bit of faith and I did second guess myself like, why am I struggling so much? Do I have now a little bit of fear that I'm not pushing the car as much?

“I knew I didn't, but still when things aren't going well, some of these questions pop up. So the 'I never left' was also for me to be like, I can still do it, I still belong here. And anyone that forgot, then forget no more.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Ricciardo said that, after his strong end to the season in 2020 with Renault and then outqualifying Norris for the opening race of 2021 in Bahrain, part of him thought that it was “only going to get better”.

“Maybe that was bad, because then it was probably even more head scratching that I was in a way going backwards over the next course of races,” Ricciardo said.

“But yeah, I think now the second half of the season, it went better. I got the win and did all this, and confirmed a lot of stuff to myself.

“I'm happy. I'm happy where things are. It's not perfect. But I'm happy.”

One of the lowest points of Ricciardo’s season came at the Hungarian Grand Prix, when he crossed the line 11th out of 13 finishers after picking up damage in the first-lap melee at Turn 1.

Ricciardo felt footage from the onboard camera on his car that showed him cutting a dejected figure in parc ferme as he checked the damage on his car “explained everything why I needed the summer break”.

PLUS: The "forced break" that was key to Ricciardo's Monza excellence

"As dejected as I was at the time, part of me was also happy, because I was like, alright, the first half has been what it was,” Ricciardo said.

“It’s nearly laughable in some ways. So let's just f*** it off, jump on a plane and just not care about F1 for two weeks.

“I think everyone operates differently, but I need that escape sometimes. I'm not a driver that goes to bed every night thinking of F1. So I knew it was going to be healthy for me.”

shares
comments

Related video

Button eyes more Williams time in F1 as COVID restrictions ease
Previous article

Button eyes more Williams time in F1 as COVID restrictions ease

Next article

The forgotten story of Hamilton's first race against a Verstappen

The forgotten story of Hamilton's first race against a Verstappen
The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams Plus

The time-honoured manufacturer model that can't apply to all F1 teams

What happens, asks MATT KEW, if the old adage of win on a Sunday, sell on a Monday is no longer true for F1 manufacturers?

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie? Plus

Why is Oscar Piastri F1's most sought-after rookie?

The Australian rising star is fast, consistent, confident, adaptable and has shown excellent racecraft, but there’s already a taint to his reputation. That hasn’t stopped him becoming the hottest property in this year’s F1 driver market and why McLaren moved fast to snap up the 21-year-old

Formula 1
Sep 30, 2022
The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver Plus

The unintended benefit that F1's new engine rules era will deliver

Formula 1's incoming engine rules shake-up has multiple targets. But it may also solve what has been a bone of contention since the hybrids arrived in 2014. The new plan will allow the series to pump up the volume

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance Plus

How de Vries made himself impossible to ignore for a belated F1 chance

Nyck de Vries appeared to have missed his opportunity to break into Formula 1 as he was passed over for more exciting talents who have now become frontrunners and title fighters. But after catching the eye outside of the F1 sphere, before his stunning impromptu grand prix debut in Italy, will it lead to a delayed full-time race seat?

Formula 1
Sep 29, 2022
Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment? Plus

Can Hamilton produce another Singapore magic moment?

The Singapore Grand Prix has, explains BEN EDWARDS, played an important role in Lewis Hamilton’s Formula 1 career. As the series returns to the Marina Bay Street Circuit for the first time in three years, he faces the latest challenge with an underperforming Mercedes car

Formula 1
Sep 28, 2022
Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals Plus

Why Sainz is key to Ferrari achieving its chairman's F1 goals

Although Ferrari's chances of title glory in 2022 have evaporated, chairman John Elkann expects the team to have chalked up both championships by 2026. Both require drivers to play the team game and, having now become more comfortable with the F1-75, Carlos Sainz may be Ferrari's key to title glory

Formula 1
Sep 27, 2022
How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes Plus

How F1 has tried to avoid repeating its 2014 engine rules mistakes

With Formula 1’s future engine regulations now agreed, MARK GALLAGHER wonders if they will provide a more competitive field than past attempts actually managed

Formula 1
Sep 26, 2022
How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era Plus

How its faltering first turbo car advanced a Williams-Honda glory era

STUART CODLING charts the development of the Williams FW09, the ugly duckling that heralded the start of the title-winning Williams-Honda partnership

Formula 1
Sep 25, 2022