While insisting that his record at McLaren this year is not as bad as it appears, Daniel Ricciardo admits “of course I want to have a better season”.
Effectively taken on as the team’s number one, almost from the outset Daniel Ricciardo found himself being out-performed by Lando Norris.
Most put this down to the fact that the MCL35M didn’t suit the Australian, something both he and the Woking outfit have confirmed. Nonetheless, though out-qualified by his teammate 15-7 and finishing 45 points adrift, there was that win at Monza.
This year however, despite an all-new car courtesy of the regulations overhaul, Norris continues to dominate his experienced teammate, and currently 57 points adrift of his teammate, Ricciardo has also been out-qualified 11-2.
Speaking to Speedcafe before the numerous reports that McLaren will not be retaining him appeared, following the shock statement from Oscar Piastri, Ricciardo defended his record with the Woking outfit.
“It’s one of those ones where like, everyone has their things that go on, you know, like away from the paper,” he said. “Whether it’s like in Miami qualifying where we had issues and had to push then the out lap, and then the tyres are too hot, so we were never going to get through Q3, Q2, whatever it was.
“So there’s little things like that which, again, don’t just happen to me… I’m sure every driver goes through the bad times in the year. But it’s just a sport where for sure the paper talks, but it’s not the full story sometimes.”
Of course, his season got off to the worst possible start when he was forced to miss the second test due to COVID, the Australian still suffering the after-effects at the season opening Grand Prix.
A clutch issue in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was following by a decent 6th in his home race while at Imola his race was compromised by a first lap clash and in Monaco he crashed in practice after the team went the wrong way in terms of set-up.
It was following the Spanish Grand Prix, in which he finished 12th, that Zak Brown made the infamous comment about not living up to expectations, however if this was meant to gee-up the Australian it had the opposite effect.
Including the Barcelona race, Ricciardo had made it into Q3 on three occasions, in the seven races since he has only made it twice. Similarly, in the opening six races he scored 11 points, while since Brown’s comments he has scored just 8.
Despite his insistence last month at being “committed to McLaren” and Zak Brown’s claim that his relationship with the Australian has “never been better”, the writing was clearly on the wall.
However, as we wait to see how this plays out, the matter probably to be decided by the Contract Recognition Board and then squabbled over by the drivers’ and teams’ respective lawyers, Ricciardo is adamant…
“Of course, I want to have a better season. Even sometimes I catch myself; like, even Paul Ricard, I was like ‘oh, but it’s just ninth’.
“You know, I was maybe not that stoked on the race. But then I kind of looked it over and then looked back, and it was better than it seemed.
“Ultimately, yeah, it’s still not going to get me jacked up on a Sunday night and wanting to go out and party and celebrate it. It’s a work in progress, but it’s not as bad as it always seems, for sure.”