Daniel Ricciardo is riding the crest of a wave after securing his first win at Monza two weeks ago; it was the Australian’s first since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix and McLaren’s first victory for almost nine years [Brazil 2012].
The Perth-born driver had an extremely difficult start to life at McLaren as he struggled to adapt to the MCL35M and was comprehensively outperformed by Lando Norris during the opening half of the current campaign.
However, Ricciardo has looked a lot more like his old self since the resumption at Spa and delivered superb performances in both sprint qualifying and the race at the Italian event to take his first win with the Woking-based team.
In spite of a run without a victory of over three years and his problems with the car, he never thought Monaco would be his last win.
“I didn’t really think like that, even through the struggles,” said Ricciardo.
“I never really got into the mindset of ‘is this it?’ Was Monaco the last time I’ll get there? I knew I’d probably have to work a little bit harder for it at times but no… like last year for example, getting the Renault back on the podium, that was such a target and achieving that, I took a lot of fulfilment and obviously so did the team.
“I mean Monza was, yes, if you like, it did make everything worth it. I guess but it was just nice, nice to stand back up there and to do it with another team – there’s certainly a sense of pride in that, in making it work and getting to that top step with another outfit and none other than McLaren so there’s certainly some feelgood stuff about it. I like winning, winning is good so it was good to do it again,” he said.
Ricciardo replied with a laugh after he was asked if McLaren could repeat their Monaco success this weekend.
“Ah, come on, mate let’s just chill for a bit. We’re just going to keep doing our best. Victory aside, I’ve felt better you know the last few weekends, I’ve felt more comfortable and of course just excited to come racing.”
Lando Norris finished 2nd at Monza, his best-ever F1 result. It also secured McLaren’s first 1-2 since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix. The Brit agrees with his teammate that a repeat is probably unlikely this weekend.
“Probably not, but we’ll try our best, we’ll try maximise everything. There’s obviously tracks we’re definitely better at and ones we’re worse at but there’s also always these opportunities that arise for us that we’re normally good at taking advantage of and being in a good position at the right time and so on.
“I think we had an amazing weekend in Monza… but it doesn’t mean we’re going to be like that every single weekend from now on, we didn’t find anything magical. We just had a bit of a better weekend, things flowed a bit better for us, the car suited the track more and that’s the way it’s going to be for the rest of the season: some track we’re going to struggle more, but how good or bad we’re going to be, I don’t know yet,” he concluded.