Austrian Grand Prix: Daniel Ricciardo admits he 'struggled'
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Daniel Ricciardo believes McLaren can be up there fighting for the Formula One world championship ‘as soon as next year’ in his debut season with the team.
Ricciardo made the step away from Renault at the end of last season to partner Brit Lando Norris at the Woking-based team, after a decade in the championship.
Ricciardo got his F1 break when he became Toro Rosso’s third driver for 2011, and made his full race debut at Silverstone as part of HRT, on loan from the Red Bull programme, before teaming up with Jean-Eric Vergne at Toro Rosso in 2012, scoring his first F1 points on debut.
He stepped up to Red Bull in 2014 after fellow Aussie Mark Webber retired from racing in 2013. Ricciardo left for Renault in 2019.
“I’ve obviously done a bit of moving around the last few years, and it’s not something I want to continue to do, or plan on doing. It’s a bit stressful and it’s actually hard work,” Ricciardo told F1.
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“The teams already laid out a very nice foundation, and if I can, say, build on what I see they’ve already got, and personally achieve my goals here, then I think we can fight for a world title. Hopefully as soon as next year.”
Ricciardo decided to move from Renault early last year to join Norris on the grid this season, something the Australian had admitted was ‘tough’ at the time.
“When I signed the contract, it was really just the steps they made in 2019, they turned heads in the whole paddock,” he continued.
“It felt like they’d gone through those, let’s say, darker years of trying to sort themselves out to rebuild the team.
“It felt like 19 they’d really put everything together, and it was like they had laid everything out, all the pieces are together, it’s now just building and executing for the next few years.
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“Obviously I signed at the beginning of 20, but during 20 they showed further steps.
“I just think they had the most promise out of the rest around, I liked what I saw and the personnel felt, yeah, everyone felt pretty comfortable at McLaren.
“When I say comfortable, don’t mistake that for complacent, but ready to get on with it.”
The team were delighted with McLaren’s strong start to the season, with both cars finishing in the points in Bahrain.
Lando Norris finished just off the podium in P4 with P7 for new team-mate Ricciardo with 18 points on the board, with strong partnership forming between the pair.
He said: “I think time will tell, I mean there’s certainly going to be competition you know, like there’s no sugar-coating at this level, I think there’s certainly a respect amongst all drivers, especially team-mates because a lot of the time you can be like, first rivals so to speak.
“But I think we actually executed a good test together, and I think the way we work together in the meetings, in the debriefs, trying to assist the team to get better, I think that there was a really good, let’s say relationship and comradery.
“I expect that to continue and on track I’m sure we will have some battles, but I’ll put the competition first, and then the banter second, but I think if we can get the team to where we want it to be, then we should have some fun along the way.”
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