Ricciardo admits McLaren stint hurt F1 confidence
By Mat Coch
Monday 10th April, 2023 - 6:00am
Daniel Ricciardo has offered a candid insight into his mental state and how his two F1 seasons with McLaren damaged his confidence.
The eight-time grand prix winner is the third driver for Red Bull this season.
He had a race contract with McLaren for 2023 but agreed to its early termination.
It’s afforded the Australian some time away from the sport’s spotlight, spending it with family and friends.
He’s also spent time reflecting on the last few years and gained new insight as a result.
Ricciardo returned to an F1 paddock at the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix for the first time since last year’s Abu Dhabi race.
It was a new experience, sitting on the pit wall during sessions, performing marketing duties for the team, and listening in during engineering debriefs.
While he’d love to have not faced the current speed bump, he doesn’t shy away from his part.
He also doesn’t blame McLaren or take joy from its early season run.
Ricciardo accepts McLaren responsibility
“I’ll always take some responsibility or accountability,” he admitted to an exclusive group of publications, including Speedcafe.
“For many years, I truly believed I was the best, and I am the best in the world, so whatever the situation, I’ll be able to overcome it.
“And obviously with McLaren it was tough for me to do that.
“So yeah, I was aware that I’m not the perfect driver, I do have weaknesses, so I’ll always hold something on to myself.”
Exactly why the relationship with McLaren didn’t work is a “great mystery”.
Ricciardo is a winning driver and McLaren had a front-running car in 2021.
Aside from that year’s Italian Grand Prix there were precious few highlights as Ricciardo struggled to match Lando Norris.
The gap only widened in 2022.
Ricciardo was afforded the chance to change much anything he needed internally to get comfortable in the car.
Thet included going so far as to change the personnel he had engineering him, but he opted not to.
To this day, nobody fully understands why it didn’t gel but Ricciardo can see points he’d change.
Hit to F1 confidence
“Having a bit of a chance to remove myself from it and now looking back on the last two years, I would have done things differently if I had that time again, or maybe ask more questions or been a little bit more demanding,” Ricciardo conceded.
“But you also live and you learn, so I don’t look back with regret.
“That was a situation and I got through it.
“And now, getting back into Red Bull, I felt as well I was certainly a little bit… my confidence was probably not what it used to be as well.
“Even I was a little bit probably timid getting into the simulator, trying to downplay how it was going to go.
“But as the day went on, the more comfortable I felt, and the more it just felt like I was kind of back home in a car that I honestly felt comfortable with.
“So yeah, let’s say everything felt like it was pretty recharged after that first day.”
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