Daniel Ricciardo faces his most challenging Formula 1 season at McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo faces his most challenging Formula 1 season at McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo says having experience and patience on his side has helped him in dealing with his most challenging F1 season to date.

It would be fair to say that the 2021 Formula 1 season has been challenging for McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.

The transition into his new car, the MCL35M, has been anything but smooth. While teammate Lando Norris has made the necessary adjustments to his driving style, in order to tame this year’s car. Ricciardo is yet to find his groove, continuing to show only glimpses of his on track potential.

What has frustrated the Australian, is the unpredictability of his car from race to race. While he has felt comfortable at certain circuits and managed to push closer to Norris, at other circuits, the car has acted in a completely different manner than expected.

There have been numerous post session interviews where Ricciardo has mentioned the car felt good out on track, yet he was clearly baffled by the sheer distance in timings between Norris and himself. Not knowing where he could claw back some of that lost time.

Earlier in the season, Ricciardo also made known the fact that in each of his team transitions, it has taken some time to adjust to the new characteristics of the car. From Red Bull, Renault and now McLaren. However, it is this season with McLaren that has been the most challenging for him.

“I would say it’s definitely been more challenging than previous experiences,” Ricciardo said. “I think more challenging just because it has taken more time.

“I sit here today like still not there yet. Or not where I want to be. I think with experience and probably maturity and a bit of wisdom, it’s not always easy, but it’s like sometimes you do just need a little bit of patience and big picture stuff.

“I think if it was, ‘I expect it to come on day one’… it shouldn’t be that easy. No matter how good I think am, it shouldn’t be that easy!

“It’s just a bit of perspective. And yeah, I appreciate, there’s 20 of us doing it in the world.

“This is like, obviously a very high level that we’re trying to perform at. I think that as well, obviously I’m just trying to get used to it, and just not let frustration carry on into anything negative. Obviously like frustration can be there like an hour or two after a race, or a qualifying. But yeah, just moving on from that, and trying to be efficient and productive, and keep morale and everything pushing in the right way with the team.”

While most athletes will experience a slump in their career at one stage or another, it is how they manage themselves during those tough times that will help determine if they are able to push through or not.

And, while it may be taking longer than Ricciardo and his McLaren bosses would like for him to hit peak performance, he believes his time in the sport has aided him in dealing with the struggles he has faced this year.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely trying… I want all the glory today,” he said. “But I guess the experience tells me that it’s definitely a process. With the age and wisdom and probably maturity comes some composure than say, when I was younger, expecting the world from everything and it wasn’t happening, then yeah, I probably would have thrown a few tantrums by now and lost it mentally, so to speak.

“So that’s where being here for a while now kinda helps take a breath, step back, go through it and understand that there’s a reason why things aren’t great right now. I need to find some answers as opposed to just throw my hands up and walk away from it all.”

Ricciardo is fast running out of time to prove himself in 2021. With F1 currently on summer break, the grid will return with only half the season remaining. But while he will need to continue to push to get the most out of the car for the last few races of the year, 2022 and what are hoped to be easier handling cars are just around the corner.