Daniel Ricciardo has spoken of his disappointing debut season with McLaren, saying he “learned a lot” from team-mate Lando Norris in 2021.
Ricciardo joined the team from Renault at the end of 2020, and the general expectation was that he would out-perform the Briton – who was outscored in both of his seasons partnering Carlos Sainz.
The Spaniard headed to Ferrari, and his 32-year-old replacement quickly found that he was walking into Norris’ team, and that the young driver was not ready to give up any of his turf.
Norris out-qualified Ricciardo 15-7 over the course of 2021, out-racing him by the same score.
It was perceived that Ricciardo would eventually acclimatise to the team and the car, but his upturn in form rarely materialised.
When it did though, it occurred on one of McLaren’s proudest days in the last decade or so.
The Australian led home the team’s first 1-2 since 2010 at the frenetic 2021 Italian Grand Prix, claiming their first race victory since 2012.
The Australian said after the race that he had “never left”, but “just stepped aside” during what had been a troubling season up to then.
It was his only podium of the year, and one of just 13 points finishes in 2021.
Ricciardo ended the Drivers’ Championship two positions behind Norris in P8, and 45 points adrift of the 22-year-old.
Despite the struggles, the Aussie maintains that he brought a lot to the Woking outfit last season.
“We certainly learned from each other last year. I don’t want to say it’s exactly the same. I probably learned more from him than the other way around,” he said.
However, Ricciardo sees no shame in being beaten by an extremely talented and competent driver, adding that his ego would have been bruised had he been defeated by a rookie.
“If it had been his first year in Formula 1 and he just jumped in and did what he did, maybe my pride would be a little tarnished.
“It’s been good. My ego is fine, but if it was a rookie doing this I’d probably be a little sadder,” he explained.
Despite the difference in racing experience between the pair, the Australian rapidly recognised that, in terms of experience with the team, he was not the wealthy one.
“I quickly realised I had to forget my experience for a while.
“He [Norris] is the experienced man here, you can see that by how he treats the engineers and knows everyone,” he conceded.
Ricciardo does however believe that the expertise he brought to McLaren also aided the Briton’s development.
“Because I pointed out what this car couldn’t do compared to others, he knows where we need to focus more attention,” the 32-year-old affirmed.
Ricciardo ended his first year with McLaren P8 in the Drivers’ Standings, while McLaren were beaten to third in the Constructors’ Championship by Ferrari at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.