McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has affirmed that his love of racing, and particularly Formula 1, has not wavered despite his recent struggles.
The Australian has had a tough time of it since joining McLaren at the start of last season, and he has not been able to find the same performance as team-mate Lando Norris.
Largely, this can be put down to the fact that he has been faced with a car that does not suit him, and an eight-time race winner does not simply lose that talent overnight.
However, the frustration from the British side derives from the fact that the 33-year-old has been at the team for around 18 months, and he still has not managed to find common ground with either the MCL35M or the MCL36.
When he has hit the right level of performance, he has produced drives like the one in Monza that took him to the team’s first victory since 2012.
However, that still constitutes his only podium with the Woking-based team, and this year has arguably proven even more tricky than last.
Ricciardo has scored points just four times in 2022, and has a best finish of P6 to his name, while Norris finished on the podium in Imola in round four.
There are also rumours that Alpine reserve driver, Oscar Piastri, is in line to replace the former Red Bull and Renault racer next season in a move that could see Ricciardo return to Enstone.
The potential dismissal and the public criticism from CEO Zak Brown might be enough to bring a lot of people down, but not Ricciardo.
The Aussie is still revved up by the pinnacle of motorsport, and he continues to believe that results like Monza last September are still possible.
“There’s certainly a few things, I believe I still thrive off it because I still believe I belong [in F1] and can do it, that’s what really gets me jacked,” Ricciardo told Speedcafe.
“And the love of it, as well as knowing any weekend it could be there, it could be around the corner.
“Monza last year…a week before at Zandvoort nobody was predicting that, not even myself, so even just the thought of a weekend like that could be one week away, it’s pretty cool.”
Ricciardo continues to be amazed by the fact that he is one of only 19 other people in the world who get to do what he does for a living.
“Like, the competition…it has to be one of the only sports in the world where there’s only 20 people doing it,” he explained.
“The competition is such like a small 0.001 per cent of a group, so to be able to not only be part of that group but to compete inside that group, that’s such a unique thing in itself, and so I love that.”
While the lows are very low in F1, the effort, mentally and physically, that needs to be exerted for a driver to succeed is something that makes victories that bit sweeter.
“The truth is, the highs you get are just so high because so much goes into it,” added Ricciardo.
“Of course you take risks, like to win a race for example, you haven’t gone for a Sunday drive, you’ve put it all on the line, the team have, you’ve pushed your body mentally and physically.
“So then the high and the reward is pretty amazing and pretty spectacular.”
Ricciardo is currently 12th in the Drivers’ Standings, with his McLaren team fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, four points behind Alpine in the fight to be best of the rest.