Daniel Ricciardo has said he is unable to set himself a target of beating Lando Norris every race weekend – or else he would end up “resenting” Formula 1.
The Aussie has failed to live up to initial expectations of being the new benchmark at McLaren following his move from Renault at the end of the 2020 campaign.
Instead, Ricciardo is, on most race weekends, having to come up with answers to explain why he is struggling to reach Norris’ level, with the British driver already collecting three podium finishes so far this season.
As a result, Ricciardo has come to terms with having to lower his expectations against Norris because he risks falling out of love with the sport – something that he has admitted to doing before – if he does not reassess his current predicament at McLaren.
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“I feel like it’s obviously for whatever reason been a very unexpected and difficult season so far, just from a pace point of view,” Ricciardo told Motorsport.com.
“And I guess the easiest way for me to kind of move forward is to accept that. Did I expect more? Absolutely.
“But I think if I every weekend go into it now expecting to be quicker than Lando, or whatever it is, I’m probably just going to end up resenting the sport, because clearly it’s going to take a bit more.
“Clearly there’s something that is missing. I feel good in the car, especially the last three weeks, it’s felt better.
“I don’t want to say, what’s the word, wave the white flag, or succumb to whatever it is, I’m just going to not really focus or lose too much energy on that, and just accept that he’s driving very well.
“The aim is to obviously get closer, and help the team out as well.”
Last time out, Ricciardo was able to add another high to his rollercoaster season as he rose from P13 on the grid at the Austrian Grand Prix to P7 by the time the chequered flag waved.
And while he cannot get too excited about a handful points, he did get some satisfaction from helping the team out in their quest to keep hold of P3 in the Constructors’ Championship this season.
“Yeah, it was better,” Ricciardo said.
“I think it was just the day I needed. And for sure I would say for the team, the points, it was nice to get in seventh and get points for them.
“But I mean personally, right now obviously I’m not in a championship fight, so the points are, I don’t want to say irrelevant, but I think the important thing for me was just have fun, be in some battles, and put myself in a good position.
“And that’s what I did, and the end result was some points, which is nice. I just enjoyed it. Obviously it’s been hard to fully enjoy it when the results have not been there, so I took a bit more fulfilment from from the race.”