Daniel Ricciardo has spoken out about the rage that propelled him to his first Grand Prix victory in almost three years.
The Australian entered Monza earlier this month with the belief that he was about to turn a corner at McLaren, where he has undergone the most trying year of his Formula One career.
Ricciardo claimed August’s summer break gave him the mental reset he needed, and he arrived at Monza in a good state of mind, in an exclusive interview with Jess Yates on Kayo ahead of the Russian Grand Prix.
He was yet to reach the podium in 2021 while his teammate Lando Norris, more than ten years his junior, had done it three times to make matters worse for him.
Ricciardo, on the other hand, understood that McLaren would be competitive at Monza, giving him a chance to make a big statement for the remainder of the season.
“We hit the track Friday. I felt comfortable in the car, I felt confident, I knew the car was pretty quick,” Ricciardo recalled.
“And then I was so close to qualifying P3, which would have been massive, and I didn’t.”
Ricciardo was painfully outside the top three on Friday, finishing 0.029 seconds behind Max Verstappen and 0.006 seconds ahead of Norris. Friday’s events paralleled his season in a way that sparked a fire in the 32-year-old, propelling him to win on Sunday.
“That one just ate at me” What ignited the fire for @danielricciardo 🔥— Fox Motorsport (@Fox_Motorsport) September 24, 2021
📺 Exclusive Riccardo/Lando interview from 4pm AEST on @kayosports: https://t.co/5IQCQebNvJ
📝 Story: https://t.co/lSoOPwneu7 pic.twitter.com/gkrTGo9TJX
What did Ricciardo say?
“That one just ate at me,” he said of Friday qualifying. “Because it was a little bit how the year was going. Like, I’ve been there, but I haven’t been there.
“It was like a little bit of a knife in my back. That’s how I pictured it.
“So I just used that anger in a positive way and channelled it to good use and from that moment on I was … I had blinkers on and that was it. I was just ready to go, simple as that.”
Ricciardo then pushed past Norris and Lewis Hamilton to finish third in Saturday’s Sprint Race. This determined grid places for the following day’s race. He was promoted to second for the main race the next day due to a grid penalty for winner Valtteri Bottas.
Ricciardo was flawless on Sunday, going ahead of Verstappen at the start before running a flawless race to claim McLaren’s first Grand Prix victory since 2012, and his first since 2018.
He further added, “There wasn’t a moment where I just flipped, but I certainly came out of the summer break with a bit more confidence.
“In a way I felt I had a point to prove.
“I kind of joked at some point after the race (at Monza) that I was sick of sucking. I just wanted to be fast and get results again.”
Meanwhile, Ricciardo reaffirmed his desire to drive in Bathurst when his Formula One career is ended.
“There’s definitely some things I’d love to do, and Bathurst would be one of them,” he said.
“I think once the chaos of my Formula 1 career slows down it’s certainly something I’d like to entertain one day.”
Talking about this year’s proposed event, he joked, “I mean, you’ll probably find me on the hill having a few tins if it’s the end of the season.”