Daniel Ricciardo has been on a midfield journey since leaving Red Bull in 2018 as he, to the surprise of the paddock, joined Renault and then McLaren – but put an end to two long waits on one chaotic Sunday at Monza, returning to the top of the podium, while also claiming his team’s first win in nine years.
Although the result came amid a difficult season for Ricciardo, who has struggled to get to grips with the McLaren car and has been overshadowed by young team-mate Lando Norris.
“It’s been the most challenging year I’ve had in a long time,“ Ricciardo, now an eight-time Grand Prix winner, admitted to Sky Sports F1.
“But it’s also made me understand more about myself as a person, and as a competitor. How much it still means to me, how much I want it. The weekend was a bit of a product of that. Already on Friday night I had a chip on my shoulder. But this is crazy, to be the guy that gets the first win for the team in nine years is pretty special.”
However, Ricciardo added that “there have been lows this year but deep down I never lost faith or the belief” as he comes to terms with his momentous achievement.
“You can easily get lost,” he said. “You know, deep down I would have moments of frustration or moments of, yeah, dropping my head, but I kind of made a point never to let that last. I also made a point to try and gain something from it and learn from it.
“For a moment you fall out of love with the sport but actually the clarity you get afterwards it kind of makes you realize how much you do love it and how much you want it. I would back myself to the hilt.”
Meanwhile, Ricciardo credited a summer “reset” with inspiring some form. “First half of the year I was trying to play catch-up and learn about the car, so I was always in, in, in,” he said. “The August break kind of forced me to get away from it. I spent it in the States and I just got away. I spent time in nature, at a friend’s ranch, and it was just the time I needed to just reset. I truly think that helped this weekend get to this position.”