Having won the Monaco GP in 2018, Daniel Ricciardo returned to the Principality with a bold quote on his helmet, stating his intention to bring strong results on the Monte Carlo circuit.
However, despite his best efforts, the Aussie endured a difficult race weekend in the Principality, as he was lapped by his team mate Lando Norris who finished third.
Just like Monaco, the International circuit of Baku is also a street circuit, where Ricciardo has won the 2017 edition of the Grand Prix. Distancing himself for his mare performance around Monte Carlo, the Australian is predicting improved fortunes at Baku, as he has gained a much better understanding of his McLaren MCL35M.
Many people have had theories on the reasons behind Ricciardo’s struggles with his McLaren, but Andreas Seidl — the McLaren Team Principal — has suggested it was down to a “not natural” driving style mismatch, while Ricciardo himself hinted that a chassis issue may have been the cause of his poor performance around Monaco.
Looking ahead to the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Ricciardo explained how he has currently been struggling to adapt his driving style to the optimal operating window of his car, but asserted that he took the necessary time to get a better clarity and understanding of it.
“The car’s fine, no issues and it’s really trying to adapt my style to work better with the car.”
“Sometimes I’ll do what I think is right, what’s worked for the last few years say, and then it doesn’t quite work well at the moment and then it’s like, why doesn’t it?”
“It becomes frustrating and then you question that it should work. That’s why for the last couple of weeks I took a step back. I didn’t completely restart but started from a step behind and built up to now. I think that helped me to understand a lot better what the car is doing and what we need to achieve with the car, and it’s definitely more clear, and now I’ve got to put that on the track and execute it.”
The Perth native added that despite the complexity of racing cars and the challenges they bring, he was eager to bounce back from his difficult Monegasque weekend and go back to racing.
“But race cars, they are interesting pieces of machinery,”
“They always have been, they always will be. I truly believe that this weekend, I’ve come in with a much better understanding of what needs to be done.”
“I’m just looking forward to getting back out [on track] and obviously when a weekend doesn’t go right you can’t wait to get back in the car and do better. I’m just looking forward to going racing again.”
When asked whether the negative feedback from fans was affecting him, Ricciardo stated that he was self-critical enough, as his self-confidence nonetheless keeps driving him to pursue his goals.
“The one person that will get under my skin is myself,”.
“That’s where I guess emotion comes out for me; I want to believe for myself, for my team and for everyone who supports me and believes in me.”
“But in saying that, I know that I don’t have any, let’s say, self-doubt; I know inside me what I’m capable of and I know if I was driving with an element of fear or hesitation then I would know that, okay, this sport is not for me anymore. But I know that’s very much not the case.”
“I know it’s just about putting it together now.”
In the end, the Aussie firmly believes that he will put together all the pieces of the puzzle, as he expects everyone to see his worth again.
“For sure, I’d love to have had it by now or a few races ago but that’s where maybe I lean on my experience in the sport and know that it’s a marathon not a sprint. And I know in whatever race’s time that, once it clicks and goes right, people will once again be back on the Ricciardo Train. So if you jumped off, it’s okay, it’s still going to go forward. I’ll let you back on!”