Ricciardo joined McLaren on a three-year contract for the 2021 season after his exit from Renault, however initially didn’t match team-mate Lando Norris for tempo.
Norris scored three podium finishes and greater than double the factors of Ricciardo earlier than the summer time break because the Australian struggled by means of the primary half of the season.
However Ricciardo responded in emphatic vogue by scoring McLaren’s first win for nearly 9 years within the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, main dwelling Norris for a 1-2 end.
Ricciardo took to his radio after successful the race to inform his McLaren group: “Deep down I knew this was going to return, so thanks for having my again. And for anybody who thought I left, I by no means left. Simply moved apart for some time.”
Ricciardo defined how the message was directed not solely at those that had written him off, but in addition at himself after conceding he had some doubts and questions come up.
“I admire that message was going to be directed at I suppose individuals who did perhaps suppose that I would checked out, and that I used to be on my method out or slightly bit washed up or no matter,” Ricciardo stated in an end-of-season interview together with Autosport.
“However nonetheless, at the beginning, that message was for me as a result of there have been occasions the place I did lose slightly bit of religion and I did second guess myself like, why am I struggling a lot? Do I’ve now slightly little bit of concern that I am not pushing the automotive as a lot?
“I knew I did not, however nonetheless when issues aren’t going nicely, a few of these questions pop up. So the ‘I by no means left’ was additionally for me to be like, I can nonetheless do it, I nonetheless belong right here. And anybody that forgot, then neglect no extra.”
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL35M
Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Ricciardo stated that, after his sturdy finish to the season in 2020 with Renault after which outqualifying Norris for the opening race of 2021 in Bahrain, a part of him thought that it was “solely going to get higher”.
“Possibly that was unhealthy, as a result of then it was in all probability much more head scratching that I used to be in a method going backwards over the subsequent course of races,” Ricciardo stated.
“However yeah, I feel now the second half of the season, it went higher. I obtained the win and did all this, and confirmed quite a lot of stuff to myself.
“I am joyful. I am joyful the place issues are. It isn’t excellent. However I am joyful.”
One of many lowest factors of Ricciardo’s season got here on the Hungarian Grand Prix, when he crossed the road 11th out of 13 finishers after choosing up harm within the first-lap melee at Flip 1.
Ricciardo felt footage from the onboard digicam on his automotive that confirmed him chopping a dejected determine in parc ferme as he checked the harm on his automotive “defined every little thing why I wanted the summer time break”.
“As dejected as I used to be on the time, a part of me was additionally joyful, as a result of I used to be like, alright, the primary half has been what it was,” Ricciardo stated.
“It’s practically laughable in some methods. So let’s simply f*** it off, soar on a airplane and simply not care about F1 for 2 weeks.
“I feel everybody operates otherwise, however I want that escape typically. I am not a driver that goes to mattress each evening pondering of F1. So I knew it was going to be wholesome for me.”