Daniel Ricciardo’s victory at the Italian Formula One Grand Prix ensured he ended a nine-year win drought for McLaren. Not only this, but Lando Norris finishing just behind meant that McLaren were the first team in 2021 to record a one-two finish. Despite the fact that Ricciardo is now an eight-time grand prix winner, McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says that his Woking-based team must not get caught up in the emotion of being back on the top step of the podium as they cannot forget the disastrous Dutch GP just a week previously when they were “destroyed” at Zandvoort.
As jubilant as McLaren’s triumph in Italy surely was, Andreas Seidl, as quoted by motorsport.com, has been quick to remind his team how much off the pace it had been on the historic weekend of F1 returning to Holland. Just a fortnight ago, McLaren could only cross the line in 10th and 11th with Lando Norris being the driver to score a single point for the team as their closely fought battle with Scuderia Ferrari continued.
“What I respect, looking at Mercedes and Red Bull, is that they have a car that can fight for the win every single weekend,” said Seidl. “That is the gap we have as a team compared to these guys, so I am not too focused on a 1-2 or whatever. In the end it is a sensational result for us, but only seven days before we got destroyed in Zandvoort in terms of performance. That is the gap we still have to the top teams with our car, and that is why we have to keep working hard in order to keep closing the gap in all kinds of circuits.”
Things move fast in Formula One – literally. McLaren’s historic haul of points from Monza has seen the papaya beast jump back in front of the prancing horse. Now, with 8 races of the calendar remaining and a 13.5-point lead over Ferrari, it is still very much all to play for in the constructors’ standings.
Andreas Seidl is not oblivious to the morale boosting which followed the Italian Grand Prix and it is another step taken as McLaren endeavour to be competing for race wins on a regular basis.
“It is the best motivation to keep going,” Seidl said. “I am obviously very happy with what both drivers showed, and I am very happy with Daniel making his steps since the summer break and getting back to where he wants to be, where we want to have him. And this is in addition to Lando, who is in unbelievable form this year and obviously that’s the drive that we want to have and we need to have in order to fight for Ferrari, and in order to keep going in our journey towards the front in Formula 1 again. It is not frustrating to see other guys winning, because in the end if you win the race you deserve it.” he said.
Daniel Ricciardo certainly deserved the race victory in Monza. So much so, that had Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton not had race-ending collisions, the Aussie still had the pace to match them and would have still been a strong contender for the win. All of this, has followed after a summer-break which has revitalized the Honey Badger as he told Mclaren.com.
“I feel pretty fulfilled right now. It’s been a while since I was on the top step. I’m sure a lot of people thought I wouldn’t get back there so that makes this win even sweeter. But for McLaren, it’s been nine years. Nine years! I thought three years for me was a long time to wait, but McLaren has waited for nine. That’s crazy. To contribute to ending that wait, to help put a smile on everyone’s face, that’s what’s made me most happy.
Look, everyone knows it’s been a challenging year for me, probably the most challenging of my F1 career, but there was something… I definitely took something from August, from the break, just getting away for a bit. I needed that. I needed to step away, to get a bit of distance and, through that, gain a little perspective.”
Andreas Seidl agrees with the thoughts of the team’s most recent race-winner as he showed in his comments to the media as quoted on racingnews365.com.
"Sometimes it's good to have a break and have a bit of a distance maybe as well, after a very intense period for him that he was putting in a lot of energy together with the team and the results didn't come. Maybe he needed that break to step away a bit, reflect and then come back and apply everything we worked through the first half of the season. It seemed to work from the first outing onwards at Spa and worked out over the course of the triple-header, even if it wasn't that visible in Zandvoort because we seemed to struggle overall with the performance of the car."
As Sochi approaches, Daniel Ricciardo has also approached a top-five place in the Drivers' standings with his two Ferrari rivals – Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc – in close company.
"It's very important, obviously, for us and for Daniel to see that he feels a lot more comfortable with the car now," explained Seidl. "Since he came back from the summer break, he was a lot more comfortable. It's a great for him, a great boost for his morale as well and for his crew. It's very important for us as a team because we need two guys up there for our battle with Ferrari."
Daniel Ricciardo is ready for the battle and eager to back on the podium again. He is a man who enjoys pressure and he is man who feels he is back where he belongs. The Aussie’s comments to the team’s official website demonstrated this.
“You know, I loved being back up there at the weekend. I loved having the chance to fight, like getting up to third in the Sprint. I loved that. I love being back to where I believe I can be. Some might say, “Yeah, but what about the pressure of being at the front?” But that’s the place I’m most comfortable. That’s the place I love. On Sunday, all I wanted to do was lead into Turn One. I was like, “I just want to lead again. I just want to be the target.” And I did that.
With 8 races to go, do not be surprised if Daniel Ricciardo was to be up the front again. Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton were given a clear reminder in Monza that there are more than two people in Formula One with the pace to win a race. Sochi – over to you!