'No-one cracked': Key moment McLaren won over Daniel Ricciardo

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Reflecting on his Italian GP win earlier this year, Daniel Ricciardo says McLaren proved they were winners that day. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
Reflecting on his Italian GP win earlier this year, Daniel Ricciardo says McLaren proved they were winners that day. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Daniel Ricciardo's victory at Monza earlier this year had been a long time coming for the Australian F1 ace.

Since his shock decision to leave Red Bull for what was then Renault for the 2019 season, forays to the front of the F1 back had been few and far between as Ricciardo was forced to toil away in the midfield.

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His move to McLaren re-ignited hopes the 32-year-old could once again move towards showing his world championship potential - but Ricciardo's first few races with the F1 stalwarts were far from encouraging.

Ricciardo's pace was simply not there. He admitted to struggles adapting to the different braking system used in McLaren's MCL35M while teammate Lando Norris posted a streak of high points finishes.

But after the break before the Italian Grand Prix, the stars aligned for Ricciardo.

A masterclass performance through qualifying, the newly introduced sprint race, and a lights-to-flag lead and victory was resounding proof Ricciardo still had it.

In an interview with F1 podcast Beyond The Grid, Ricciardo said he hasn't looked back after leading through the first chicane in the Italian GP.

“(The win) was needed, no doubt about it,” he said.

“You don’t really lose faith in yourself, because you know what you’re capable of, but if you haven’t done it for a while, then of course it’s like … ‘Am I not 100% in this corner, am I at 98 now and I don’t even know it?’ So you get these … little voices.

“But I think the truth is, I knew it when I led – I got the start and as soon as I pulled out of the first chicane in the lead, I literally remember going out and I had a smile and I said, ‘The pit crew right now must be going nuts, we’re leading.’" 

Crucially, the pressure of the moment never got the better of Ricciardo. 

Instead of feeling overwhelmed, seeing the clear track in front and the rest of the field in his mirrors was such a restorative moment for Ricciardo that he was drumming on the steering wheel and singing to himself at times during the race.

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Despite what looked like a commanding individual performance, F1 is still a team sport.

McLaren are a historically dominant F1 team with years of championship experience under their belt - but under their current guise, success has proven difficult until a slow turn of form over the previous two seasons.

Ricciardo's win was the team's first since Jenson Button won in Australia in 2012, and their first one-two finish since 2010.

It was just as important for the team as it was driver.

McLaren's lightning pit stop at the Italian Grand Prix proved to Daniel Ricciardo the team was read to compete for F1 glory. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
McLaren's lightning pit stop at the Italian Grand Prix proved to Daniel Ricciardo the team was read to compete for F1 glory. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“What it did for the team was just as powerful,” Ricciardo said.

“Because the team’s been on this trajectory, they’ve had podiums, but to get the win … confirms a lot of belief that the team have in themselves to get it done.

“And even going to the mechanics, we had the fastest pit stop of that race in Monza. 

"To do that when the team is not notoriously known for the fastest pit stops, so to execute that in probably the hardest-pressure pit stop of the year, that is what I took from that weekend – like, ‘Man we’ve got a group of winners here.’ And that makes me really excited.

“And the truth is, Monza proved everything, because it’s the win but it’s everything that happened around that, that showed that no one cracked. No one cracked! That is really important.”

McLaren are locked in a fierce battle with Ferrari for third place in the constructors championship as the teams head to Texas for the United States Grand Prix.

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