‘That vibe is challenged’ – Ricciardo on dealing with struggles at McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo is hoping for more podiums and race wins this season with McLaren after a disappointing 2021 campaign.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has said that he wants his team to be consistently challenging for podiums and race wins in 2022.

The technical regulations in Formula 1 have altered radically ahead of the new season, as a ground effect-led aerodynamic concept comes into force in an attempt to increase the frequency of exciting on-track battles.

The drivers’ adaptability to slightly altered visibility will also be tested by 18-inch tyres which are in place to ensure the longevity of in-race battles, while manufacturers have also been working with a new “E-10” fuel blend aimed at helping F1’s sustainability push.

With a completely unprecedented set of regulations in play, the Australian believes this is an opportunity that the Woking team to exploit in their quest to return to winning ways.

“I’m hopeful we can obviously be competitive, [get on the] podium, try to win a few races, but we haven’t seen these rule changes in such a long time that we don’t really know what to expect,” he told the Herald.

“I really hope the field bunches up, like from first to last there’s only a second between the cars, as opposed to two or three seconds. Close to harder racing, I think that would be awesome. I mean, I’m prepared, but obviously the car is a big factor in this sport, so I couldn’t tell you today where I expect to finish.”

Ferrari pipped McLaren to third in the Constructors’ Standings last season, and the 32-year-old is keen to break into the top three and join the conversation at the front with Mercedes and Red Bull.

“[We’re hoping for] a handful of podiums, top three in the teams championship. I’d love to obviously get another win, if not 10. But how I rate my success is how I feel leaving a race,” he added.

“If I know I’ve done everything I can that weekend and left it all out on the track, then that’s success.”

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Ricciardo’s vibrant personality has frequently come across in Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries, but he admits that it was occasionally challenging to maintain his ever-optimistic perspective in what was a troubling first year with the British squad having just signed from Renault.

He was out-qualified 15-7 by younger team-mate Lando Norris, finding himself out-raced by the same score.

He managed 13 points finishes in 22 races while the 22-year-old failed to score points in only two of them, making 2021 a particularly testing season for him.

“That vibe is challenged for sure, it’s not unconditional,” he explained.

He did however manage to pick himself up and claim the team’s first race win since 2012 at the Italian Grand Prix last season, leading Norris home for their first 1-2 since 2010.

He reveals that a positive outlook is important to recover from the multitude of difficulties he experienced last season.

“I’ll credit perspective, and I definitely have the ability to find perspective in things,” he stated.

“I remember one bad race, I got taken out on lap one, which is like worst case scenario. You build up all day to race, then in 30 seconds your race is over.

“Obviously, I was upset and pissed, but I was still like, ‘You know what? My friends would kill to have this job.’ I want to appreciate that if a bad day for me is still being at a racetrack somewhere and having a chance to perform, then it’s not all bad.

“And I knew I had another chance the following week. As long as you get a chance for redemption, then I think there’s always a good way to look at things.

“And having people around you, whether it’s family, friends—they can help pick you up when things don’t go as planned.”

Ricciardo has been unable to complete any of the three days of testing in Bahrain this week having fallen ill with Covid-19, but McLaren are hopeful that they can get him in the car for the first race of the season in Sakhir next weekend.