Daniel Ricciardo ended a nine-year drought for McLaren with victory at the Italian Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo has explained that he “never lost faith” that he would return to the top step of the Formula One podium despite a difficult season at McLaren.
The Australian won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza to secure the team’s first win for nine years, leading home teammate Lando Norris, who finished second.
It marked Ricciardo’s first win since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix with the 32-year-old admitting he has struggled at times in 2021.
“It’s been the most challenging year I’ve had in a long time,” Ricciardo explained 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.
“To be the guy that gets the first win for the team in nine years is pretty special.”
Ricciardo took his opportunity after a chaotic race in Lombardy.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crashed into title rival Lewis Hamilton, of Mercedes, eliminating both from the race.
The Dutchman has been given a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix next weekend.
Ricciardo credited time spent in the United States on a friend’s cattle ranch with resetting his focus after a year of challenges and helping him to a famous victory for McLaren.
“You can easily get lost,” Ricciardo revealed.
Daniel Ricciardo took victory at Monza ahead of McLaren team-mate Lando Norris, the team’s first win in almost a decade (Luca Bruno/AP)
“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 realise how much you do love it and how much you want it. I would back myself to the hilt.”
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