While McLaren’s confidence seems if not broken, at least seriously damaged in him, Daniel Ricciardo may only have himself to blame: because since his arrival at Woking, Lando Norris has beaten him easily and regularly in the orange car .
However, if his delay on the 2021 car (with old regulations) was excusable, it is less understandable to see Daniel Ricciardo being so far behind Lando Norris, with this new 2022 aerodynamic regulation. Which was supposed to act as a ‘reset ‘ for him…
Isn’t the Australian disappointed with himself? Didn’t he have many other expectations with this new regulation?
« Yeah, but – and maybe it’s with experience now – I’m always a bit cautious about what to hope for, or what to expect or ask for. We never know. »
“This is the case when we receive evolutions. If they say ‘that’s going to take us three tenths up’, I’m like… let’s see that on the circuit.”
“Even if the team says we have a development this weekend that is worth a second, I’m not going to exult until the clock says it. And obviously, I have nothing against the team; I just think it’s important not to have too many expectations in this sport, or not to fly too high, because F1 can certainly bring you down just as fast. »
Taking as often the example of his victory at Monza at the start of the second half of the season last year, Daniel Ricciardo does not want to lose hope: what if the best was yet to come for him in 2022?
« It was exciting (to have a reset), but I’m also looking at the second half of last year and, although it wasn’t the best second half of the year I’ve ever had, it was much better than the first. I had built up a bit of momentum with this car, so I was also thinking, ‘if the rules don’t change, I think I’m in a good position to start the second season now’. »
The need for a break
Can the summer break, before the resumption of F1 at Spa, also act as this ‘reset’ that Daniel Ricciardo needs?
The McLaren driver uses strong terms, particularly in reference to the end of 2021…
“Twelve months ago, I claimed her [la pause estivale] almost screaming. I needed to take a break, to get away from it all, because I was in a tough spot, with not much on the other side, so I knew it would be good for me. »
« I wouldn’t say I’m clamoring for it right now. You could say it’s the same as last year, but I didn’t let myself burn out. »
“That said, I still understand the value of a break and I still want one. I still think it’s going to be good for me – and probably for most people in the paddock. But yeah, last year was kind of a non-negotiable thing; it was like ‘I need this fucking break’, when now I’m gonna take it. »
Daniel Ricciardo also remains confident in his team’s ability to make him progress – while his needs are now better known.
« Last year around this time everyone was probably a little more puzzled, and that’s because…the truth is, they expected me to join the team and kick ass and kick everybody’s ass. So there was probably still some bewilderment, like, ‘Hmmm, what’s going on?’ »
« And that probably took precedence over what needed to happen – I’m only speculating, but maybe too much energy was put into the whys and the thiss and the thats before asking, ‘What should we do? we do now to make him feel better? »
« But this year there’s more understanding and they know me now after a year, so it’s very clear what I like in a car, and even I’ve found that out. So when I’m struggling, the team is like, ‘Oh, I can see it in the data, that’s how Daniel feels and he’s proven over the last 18 months that’s what he doesn’t like to feel. That’s what prevents him from pushing the car to its limit, it’s that area. » »
« So in terms of development, on some tools – on the steering wheel buttons, the differential and that sort of thing – we’re able to play around with and there’s a bit more of a clear direction on that. This is where I feel like we are more aware of what I need; the way is clearer to get there. Last year, it was always a bit like, “F***, what is it? What’s holding him back? Why is he so off the pace?”
But if he still does not manage to perform in this second half of the season, would Daniel Ricciardo understand that McLaren is dismissing him? Does he agree to play his skin at the next Grands Prix?
“Clearly I won a race less than a year ago and people are saying [désormais] « Ah, this guy is no longer good for Formula 1 ». It just goes to show that you have to be there all the time, and you can’t give people a reason to write something or have an opinion. »
“But it is what it is. I know it’s the very nature of trying to be the best in the world at something and that comes with it, so I accept that. Of course, sometimes you have to do things like issue a statement to try to silence certain noises. »
What Ricciardo recently did by recalling that he had a contract for 2023…