Daniel Ricciardo’s victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix was one of the most popular Formula 1 wins in recent memory, and now the big smiling Aussie is targeting a repeat performance at Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix.
It is fair to say that Ricciardo’s eighth victory was one of the sweetest, apart from ending McLaren’s 3,213 days losing streak in Formula 1 it also marked a welcome return to form for the Aussie who lost his mojo in the first half of the season.
But driver and team worked on the issues together and the result was the triumph in Italy, which Ricciardo recalled in his team’s Sochi preview: “A week on from Monza, it still feels good thinking about being back on that top step of the podium. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect way to end a triple-header.
“I loved competing at the front of the grid and having the chance to fight for the win,” he declared.
But it has not always big smiles in the McLaren pit garage this season, as Ricciardo adapted to the Woking outfit and sampled current era F1 Mercedes power for the first time; all not helped by limited testing, and a teammate, Lando Norris, in extremely good form.
Thus the Monza podium is that much sweeter, which Ricciardo acknowledged: “The one-two finish is a product of hard work throughout the team and from myself. Since the start of my journey with McLaren. I’ve been working through the challenges that come with adapting to a new car, but the team has been really supportive throughout.
“It’s great to have a result that completes that picture, and to have the team back in the winner’s circle has been a ride and I’ve only been a part of it for six months. It’s been the boost we all needed,” added the 32-year-old.
Looking ahead to the Sochi weekend, Ricciardo said: “I’ve definitely taken time to enjoy the moment but now it’s time to focus on Russia. I want to build on my Monza performance this weekend and will be pushing to score important points to keep up the fight with our competitors.
“Sochi can be a tricky circuit to make a move, so it’s important to make the most of qualifying to give us the best chance for points come Sunday,” added Ricciardo who is eighth in the 2021 F1 world championship ahead of Round 15.