Ricciardo overwhelmed by F1 having not dominated as junior

Ben Johnston
Daniel Ricciardo interviewed on Sky Sports. Austin October 2021.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has admitted to being overwhelmed by Formula 1 when he first entered the sport having not dominated on his way up through the junior categories.

The Australian made his Formula 1 debut with the Hispania Racing team at the 2011 British Grand Prix, making eleven race starts for the outfit having been placed in the team by the Red Bull young driver programme.

Ricciardo stepped up to Toro Rosso in 2012 before moving on to the senior Red Bull team in 2013, where at the Canadian Grand Prix he scored his first Grand Prix victory before going on to win two more races that year in Belgium and Hungary.

The Australian moved to Renault in 2019, spending two seasons with the team, his best result being a pair of third-place finishes at the Nurburgring and at the Imola circuit.

Ricciardo now finds himself at McLaren, a veteran of the Formula 1 grid, but reflecting on those earlier days as he made his Formula 1 breakthrough, the bubbly Aussie took some time to find his footing.

Joining a grid that featured former World Champions like Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, Ricciardo faced a challenge to discover his self-belief, having not won a junior title beyond British Formula 3.

“It was difficult to come from Australia and enter F1, I’m sure there are many parts of the world rather disconnected from the Circus, and Perth is certainly one of them,” he is quoted by Corriere dello Sport as having said on the Gypsy Tales podcast.

“But then, a few years later, I was there on the grid with Schumacher and the drivers I idolised as a child, and I was in awe. At that point, I wondered what I was doing there.

“As a boy, I was obviously good – but I was not dominating, and there were no real signs that I was I would have done it. At first, then, I was definitely a little overwhelmed.

“It was a learning process to try to get comfortable and believe in myself more.

“Even if it was Schumacher, Alonso or Raikkonen, however, each of them had to go through the same path, you try to make everyone around you more human so as not to make them seem so alien.”

Ricciardo scored his first victory in McLaren colours when he led home a team one-two at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, the first time McLaren had achieved that since Canada 2010.

 

The Australian will be on hand alongside his team-mate Lando Norris next week, when they reveal the 2022 MCL36 at the McLaren Technology Centre.

 

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