How Ricciardo “got some enjoyment back” after “really low” first race in Austria

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Daniel Ricciardo admitted he was left feeling “really low” after the Styrian Grand Prix. But a promising recovery drive in the second race at the same track meant he left Austria with his trademark grin back on his face.

His Styrian Grand Prix was spoiled by a loss of power which cost him several places. But Ricciardo’s starting position of 13th that weekend showed he has still not got to the bottom of the qualifying problems which have dogged him since he arrived at McLaren.

The Austrian Grand Prix a week later initially followed the same script. Ricciardo failed to make it to Q3 while team mate Lando Norris qualified on the front row. But in the race Ricciardo moved from 13th to seventh, and making up those positions was a mental boost.

“It was quite fun,” said Ricciardo, who started the race on a set of medium tyres to aid his climb through the field. “At the beginning we were just fighting with the soft starters. And once they pitted I was able to get a little bit of a rhythm.”

Having cleared the early pitters who started in the lower reaches of the top 10, Ricciardo found himself in a scrap with the delayed Sergio Perez and Ferrari due Carlos Sainz Jnr and Charles Leclerc.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Power unit glitch ruined a good start to race one in Austria…
“I always had pressure from Charles or Sergio or Carlos at the end,” said Ricciardo. “It was a busy race defending. But it was fun.

“The start was good again, the restart was good, I enjoyed it. I think there’s still certainly some speed to find but I enjoyed myself a little more today. That’s the most important thing right now, to get some enjoyment back.”

Norris finished the grand prix in third, spending the majority of his time in clear air, while Ricciardo’s joy at making some gains and having something to get stuck into was countered with it being “quite a stressful race” where “I wasn’t trying to attack, I was [always] trying to defend”.

“There was moments where I had good speed, but then other moments where I just wasn’t,” Ricciardo admitted. “I think it was the maximum I could do with my current feeling and speed.”

Seventh place is only one position off his highest result of the season, which while encouraging for a recovery job also shows how much of a struggle 2021 has been for Ricciardo.

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“It’s been a little bit difficult more times than not this year,” he admitted. “So just trying to have some fun in some battles, and annoy some other drivers, I enjoyed that.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl praised his performance, which helped stretch McLaren’s lead over Ferrari in the battle for third in the constructors’ championship. However Ricciardo has so far contributed less than one-third of the team’s points this season.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021
…but he claimed a solid points haul in race two
“Some of the cars in front of us, we could beat by strategy,” said Seidl. “Also with the fact that I guess where Daniel started the race was not reflecting the performance he and the car can do. That’s why it was also clear that the objective for was to move forward and score good points.”

That Ricciardo “could pull off this race” for McLaren pleased Seidl, but he also noted the mental benefit for his driver.

“Hopefully that gives him now good energy going into the next two weeks, preparing then for our home races at Silverstone.”

Reclaiming his enjoyment of F1 in the space of a race was good going, but Ricciardo is cautious of swinging sharply from the doldrums of a week ago to complete satisfaction.

“I try not to be too extreme, because it’s too obvious,” he said. “Your bad days, you’re like this, and then when everything’s good you are a nice person. I enjoyed the race, but it’s still been a difficult two weeks here.

“For sure I had a bit more comfort, within myself. But it’s just to be really leaving the circuit with really like a lot of fulfilment hasn’t really been the case. And it’s been a difficult period, just for myself in the sport at the moment.

“I think that’s why having these lows and some, not even highs, but just some better days [help]. I’m trying to stay a bit more level.

“There’s a lot of things as well, like outside things, family and not being home for a long time now. I think it starts to affect you, and I think the bad days then become even worse because everything gets compounded. So I’m trying to stay positive, or at least level.”

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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20 comments on “How Ricciardo “got some enjoyment back” after “really low” first race in Austria”

  1. I’m glad for him that last race has made him happy but the reality is that his teammate was on the podium (again) and he’s only pulled a fraction of the points for McLaren. We’re nearing the midpoint of the season and everyone else who switched team has already got up to speed or is nearing it. How much longer does Ricciardo need?

  2. Bit of an awkward situation, Norris is paying millions to race while DR is being paid millions. Yet the pay driver is getting the results so far. Only in F1…

    1. @Erik Norris isn’t a pay driver.

      1. You might want to do some research, Norris`s father has so far paid over 40 mil. to McLaren for Norris to end up with a 3 year deal.

        1. “Research” as in Formula 1 sites that have a reputation of fabricating stories?

          Reply moderated
        2. Although his father undoubtedly backed him to the hilt in junior categories, can you provide some evidence that he is currently a pay driver? I’ve tried to “do some research” and I’ve come up with that he now earns £3.65m as a salary: https://www.racefans.net/2021/04/08/2021-f1-driver-salaries-top-earner-hamilton-takes-pay-cut-in-one-year-mercedes-deal/

    2. You’re probably talking about sponsors, but norris not only is on f1 on merit, he’s also one of the top drivers now.

      1. That is exactly what is so awkward, he is in F1 on merit, no doubt about it. At the same time he is paying more than either Latiffi or Mazepin to race.

  3. I have an opinion
    7th July 2021, 10:12

    Ricciardo will have nowhere to hide next year when everyone gets a new car shod with eighteens. If he continues to be outmatched, he can retire from F1 without shame, with many happy memories, and a lot of moolah.

    1. A rollercoaster ride on that rainy day almost seven years ago was where everyone saw him as a real challenger, until three years ago everything changed for him.

  4. It’s strange what is happening to Danny Ricciardo. From previous years in F1 we know he is a fantastic driver, capable of being mighty quick and can pull off incredible overtakes. What ever is happening at McLaren just isn’t working for him, and it doesn’t seem like something he can fix.
    It feels like a similar situation to that of Red Bull the last 2 years, the car seems to be made in a way that one driver can find lots of time and one just can’t get any time out of it. Put them in a different car and the chances are the drivers would be much much closer.
    It seems like his best chance is a heavily changed car philosophy next year (more likely to happen with the 2022 rules)

  5. Ricciardo has taken longer than many including me thought to get up to speed. His first year at Renault was not spectacular either but he came good in the second year. Also I think Norris has definitely lifted this year making the gap bigger than it would have been. As a Ricciardo fan I’m a bit frustrated at his lack of consistency and ability to match Norris, but I’m guessing not nearly as much as he is. But I’m confident he’ll be back at the front and challenging for wins, he has the skill the determination and the team behind him to achieve what he wants.

  6. What team will Riciardo join next year? While in races he is underperforming at the moment, i also can’t see any joy off track too. There is no chemistry between lando and him, and the PR video’s featuring him all have an awkward look and feel over them, like he is staged to have fun while he is hating it. The ones with Lando solo are great so it’s not the video producers?

    1. I like Ricciardo I have to say, but he also comes across as one of those people that wants to be your best mate before you’ve been through something together. I think in time that chemistry will be there, but I’m not sure Ricciardo’s style fits in that well at McLaren in the short term you’re right @cdfemke

  7. Maybe we have overrated him because he beat Vettel at RB (which is also his only achievement). Kvyat is no benchmark. Max had the better of him fairly quick (lets not forget Max was just 18 or 19). So we base his status on beating Vettel. We all know by now Lance can do that as well. His momentum is gone. Too many youngster (Charles, Max, Lando, George) will take the wins now. He should have stayed at RB and rack up podiums. At least it would have been better than no podiums anymore. He did make a decent amount of money by leaving RB though, so happy the financial part did work out for him. I dont see him winning multiple races anymore.

  8. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    7th July 2021, 13:49

    I wouldn’t be happy if I was him. He left Renault, a manufacturer team, with the belief that McLaren was a stronger bet for a world championship. Like that’s his goal – to be a world champion – and here he is getting owned by his team-mate and having no answer for that quality of pace. At the moment if McLaren were capable of taking a title you’d bet it was Norris that would lead that charge, not Ricciardo – and that damages his stock immensely in the same way that Vettel’s was knocked by Ricciardo himself.

  9. Ricardo was 40 seconds behind his team mat despite that driver having received a time penalty.

    Is this really an improvement?

    1. When he started 11 places behind him, yes.

  10. So last year Ricciardo said to Norris “i will end you”. That’s why there’s no chemistry between them. At least Sainz showed some respect to little brother Lando. Maybe Ricciardo thought “i was better than Hulkenberg, Nico was better than Sainz and Carlos looks generally better than Norris so this kid Lando will be an easy walk for me, i am honey badger baby i’m about to end this man’s career”.

  11. The public never knows the mental going ons of racing drivers. Robert Kubica was one of the first to open up about it, by admitting he could have returned to f1 earlier than he did, but wasn’t ready mentally. Being happy and positive beings better results in nearly all aspects of life. Ricciardo is struggling for the first time in his F1 career, but he will get his mojo back. I think Dani’s only mistake in F1 has been how many times he has swapped teams, it’s a new start at every team in so many ways mentally beyond just driving.

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