Daniel Ricciardo says missing out on P3 in Monza qualifying was a knife in the back – and drove him to go on and win the race.
The Australian claimed his first win for three years at the Italian Grand Prix, leading for the vast majority of the race – all bar the pit-stop phase – after passing Max Verstappen at the start.
He had looked strong all weekend, finishing sprint qualifying in P3 and nearly taking the same position in qualifying the day before, only just beaten by Verstappen and his own McLaren team-mate Lando Norris.
That result, he says, felt like a knife in the back given the struggles he had been having all year – and the anger it gave him ultimately helped him to triumph on race day.
“We hit the track Friday. I felt comfortable in the car, I felt confident, I knew the car was pretty quick and then I was so close to qualifying P3, which would have been massive, and I didn’t,” he told Fox Sports.
“That one just ate at me because it was a little bit how the year was going. Like, I’ve been there but I haven’t been there. It was like a little bit of a knife in my back. That’s how I pictured it.
“So I just used that anger in a positive way and channelled it to good use and from that moment on I was…I had blinkers on and that was it. I was just ready to go, simple as that.”
The moment @DanielRicciardo added his own piece of McLaren history to the MTC trophy cabinet. 🏆🥰
And he picked a spot alongside a very special trophy. 👏🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/Umk6gu1I8H
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 16, 2021
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Few, if any, drivers on the grid had a poorer first half of the season than Ricciardo, who was struggling to get to grips with his car and a long way off Norris more often than not.
He says taking some time off during the summer break helped him a lot with the McLaren, finding more confidence and motivation.
“There wasn’t a moment when I just flipped, but I certainly came out of the summer break with a bit more confidence,” he added.
“In a way, I felt I had a point to prove. I kind of joked at some point after the race (at Monza) that I was sick of sucking. I just wanted to be fast and get results again.”
Can McLaren stay at the front after Monza success?
Can McLaren stay at the front after Monza win?
After the highs of the Italian GP, where McLaren will stack up in Russia will be an interesting sub-plot in Sochi.