Daniel Ricciardo felt his 2021 season at McLaren did more for his personal growth than when he left Red Bull for Renault.
It came as a great surprise when Ricciardo departed Red Bull to sign with Renault for 2019, a move that saw him go from a team capable of winning in Formula 1 to one still trying to escape the midfield.
Ricciardo impressed for the French manufacturer, scoring two podium finishes in his second campaign with the team in 2020 although he made the decision to move again for the following season, signing with McLaren.
Particularly in the first half of 2021 Ricciardo struggled, often lagging behind the pace being set by his team-mate Lando Norris.
It was an improved picture after the summer break with Ricciardo even claiming victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, although he ended the season 45 points behind Norris.
It was a season when Ricciardo experienced a level of personal growth he had not gone through before.
“I think already moving from Red Bull to Renault I went through some, call it, personal growth,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“But I think last year, probably two factors made it the biggest year for that.
“One was the challenges I faced with the car, and trying to obviously gel with that, and then I think the other one was obviously being away from home.”
Ricciardo was able to return home to his native Australia following the conclusion of the 2021 campaign having not been able to do so since the 2020 Australian Grand Prix, which ultimately did not go ahead due to the global pandemic that was starting to take hold at that time.
So as more time passed without those familiar surroundings and seeing his family, Ricciardo started to notice the effect – and now has a greater appreciation for life away from Formula 1.
“Just not having some of those home comforts or family surroundings you’re kind of just used to,” he continued.
“I think sometimes, if you live at home, you don’t really notice it because it’s always in front of you.
“But obviously when I left Australia and moved away from family, you certainly notice it more.
“But now, not seeing them for that long, that’s a bigger thing.
“It’s made me definitely appreciate other things in life, not just racing, and I think that’s given me a lot of growth.”
Ricciardo remains alongside Norris at McLaren for the upcoming 2022 season.
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