Daniel Ricciardo’s first Formula 1 season with McLaren wasn’t his best, the Aussie struggling to get on top of his new car’s handling, admitting that it sucks giving his season a low grade.
Ricciardo finished his first season in Papaya eighth in the Drivers’ Standings, two places behind his highly-rated teammate Lando Norris, also scoring 45 points less than the Briton, despite his win at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix in Monza.
That Italian race victory turned out to be the only highlight of the Australian’s season who did not hide his inability to get to grips with the team’s 2021 car, the Mercedes-powered MCL35M.
Ricciardo actually put a lot of effort in this season
Speaking to formula1news.co.uk, Ricciardo admitted that, despite putting in a lot of effort this year, his season should be scored low: “I’ll give you a score, but I’ll say it sucks giving yourself a low grade because I’ve actually put a lot of effort in.
“So if I say, like, three, it comes across like I haven’t tried. But it hasn’t been without trying – the first part of the season is probably a four, the second part a seven,” Ricciardo mused. “What’s been good this year is I never really knew what, let’s say, my strengths were.
“Okay, yes, I’m fast, but why am I fast? Where am I fast? In a way, this year the weaknesses also exposed to me what my strengths are. That was quite interesting.
“You wouldn’t think in like, let’s call it bad times or a bad year, you would discover something good about yourself,” the 32-year-old admitted.
Being away from homemade the year more difficult
The likeable McLaren driver was also struggling with other aspects of his year; being homesick, as Covid restrictions prevented him from visiting his family in Australia.
“I counted. By the time I get home, it’s close to 20 months. Close to 20 months! It’s like 19 and a half or something,” he exclaimed. “That’s made this year more difficult as well. The lows are lower because you don’t have that…
“I’ve got family support in McLaren, but I don’t have my family,” the former Red Bull and Renault driver lamented.
“Even if it’s not like to put an arm around me, it’s like, ‘Let’s getaway for the weekend. Let’s just go and do something and let’s switch off for a bit’.
“Even a family can provide a really nice escape. That’s been tough, for sure,” he insisted.
There will be emotions
Arriving home will bring up emotions the eight-time-winner revealed: “It’s normally my mum doing the crying when I get home for Christmas, but I think I’ll be a bit emotional as well.
“Everyone can relate. We’re not kids anymore, we’re adults, and you get older and naturally, your family gets older. Every year that passes is one more year that you kind of miss out. Even with nieces and nephews, it’s a year that I’ve missed them growing up.
“So I do hold that stuff close to me, for sure. This job is tough as it is being away from loved ones. So I think it will be quite emotional, but it will obviously be really nice,” the Honey Badger concluded.