Daniel Ricciardo realised there’s more to life than racing amid McLaren struggles

Daniel Ricciardo ended the 2021 championship eighth - 4 points behind sixth-placed team-mate Lando Norris.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo says his tricky debut season with McLaren helped him grow, not just as a racer, but a person too.

Ricciardo was out-qualified 15-7 by Lando Norris at the Woking-based team last season and, in the middle part of the year, branded his start to life at the squad “almost laughable.”

The Briton would out-race him by the same score, and the 32-year-old trailed his team-mate by 45 points come the end of what was a difficult first year in orange for the eight-time race winner.

After five seasons at Red Bull in which he won seven races, the Australian took the decision to move to Renault ahead of 2019, and the French outfit’s promising 2018 form had been enough to convince him that this was the best team for his future.

However, the Enstone-based side suffered a severely disappointing year, and Ricciardo managed points in eight of the 21 races as he and Nico Hulkenberg guided the team to fifth in the Constructors’ Championship – 54 points adrift of fourth-placed McLaren.

At the beginning of the 2020 season, the Aussie then announced he would be headed to McLaren, and he felt the challenge of a new team two-fold last year due to having away from his hometown of Perth for almost 12 months by the first race of last year in Bahrain.

“I think already moving from Red Bull to Renault I went through some, call it, personal growth,” he said in conversation with Speedcafe.com.

“But I think last year, probably two factors made it the biggest year for that.

“One was the challenges I faced with the car, and trying to obviously gel with that, and then I think the other one was obviously being away from home.”

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He went into detail on some of the struggles he faced as a result of his inevitable homesickness.

“Just not having some of those home comforts or family surroundings you’re kind of just used to,” he explained.

“I think sometimes, if you live at home, you don’t really notice it because it’s always in front of you.

“But obviously when I left Australia and moved away from family, you certainly notice it more.

“But now, not seeing them for that long, that’s a bigger thing.”

His disappointing 2021 season gave him some perspective on the ulterior aspects of life that transcend his racing career.

“It’s made me definitely appreciate other things in life, not just racing, and I think that’s given me a lot of growth,” he added.

Despite the difficult campaign, the 32-year-old did manage to take McLaren’s first victory since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix, while Norris came home second for the team’s first 1-2 since 2010.

The pair will line up alongside one another again this year, with McLaren having unveiled their 2022 car on 11 February.