Daniel Ricciardo has singled out the one aspect that changed from his first McLaren race to his last and how he initially had the edge over Lando Norris.
While Norris would go on to consistently outqualify the Australian in 2022, that was not always the case. In 2021, Ricciardo started ahead of the Brit on seven occasions, a number that dropped to three in 2022.
What’s more, Ricciardo actually began his first season on the front foot, outqualifying Norris in Bahrain and Imola.
But, against what would have been the expected trend, Ricciardo’s form with the McLaren got worse, the Australian going on a run of eight consecutive races without starting ahead of Norris at the end of 2022.
Ricciardo, who will play the role of third driver at his former team Red Bull in 2023, said he believes his loss of form came as he began to trust his instincts less.
“Already last year, during the summer break, it occurred to me that I was driving very consciously,” he told the In the Fast Lane podcast. “It just wasn’t natural anymore and I was just one step behind.
“That was where I was like ‘Okay, I think we’re just trying to do too much.’ So, it definitely occurred to me and then one thing I keep thinking back to is my very first qualifying with McLaren I outqualified Lando. So when I still didn’t really know the car.
“I don’t know how many times I outqualified him over the two years but it wasn’t much but to have done it when I was probably just driving more of feel and instinct and a lack of knowledge about the car, that was actually when I was probably better off.
“So for sure, like at some point, we would have got a little too deep and a little too lost. If we didn’t dive that deep, would I have killed it? I still don’t believe I would have killed it in this car. It certainly exposed like some of my weaknesses for sure. I have to accept that.”
Ricciardo has previously stated he is looking to use his time off grid to recharge with the view of racing again in 2024 and he said that even now just a few weeks after the season has finished, he has begun to “let it go.”
“I feel already now that the season has ended, I’ve already like slowly, kind of let it go but I’m sure I’ll still think about it over time because it is still a little bit of, I don’t want to say a mystery, but it’s certainly like the kind of continuous struggles I had was, at least for me, very foreign.
“We all have our bad races, but to kind of have the amount that I did and kind of the level that it was at the time, like a second a lap off the pace or whatever, you know, that was odd. I was scratching my head.”