Daniel Ricciardo was not expecting his first McLaren win to arrive at Monza, but did not go into the 2021 season ruling out a victory.

Ricciardo had a major struggle on his hands during the first-half of his opening season with McLaren, often struggling to get close to the pace which team-mate Lando Norris was extracting from the MCL35M.

But after a reset over the summer break, Ricciardo re-emerged much closer to his pre-McLaren form, winning the Italian Grand Prix as Norris followed him across the line to score a one-two finish for the team.

Ricciardo admitted that he was not expecting that first McLaren victory to arrive so soon, but would not have written it off as impossible.

Asked in an interview with the McLaren website whether he thought a race win in 2021 was possible, Ricciardo replied: “Not after the first six months. No.

“I say that, but I’ve also been in this sport a long time, and I know that things can happen and that things can change pretty quickly.

“So although I didn’t expect a win, I also wouldn’t have signed a document saying, ‘No, there’s no way I’ll win a race this year,’ because you never know.”

Norris too came close to a 2021 victory in Russia, but was sadly caught out by a late downpour which wrecked his race after deciding not to pit for intermediate tyres.

And when asked the same question as Ricciardo, the Britain also believed that a chance to win could have come about. How right he was.

“Did I think I’d be in a position to win a race this year? Honestly, no,” he said.

“Did I believe there was a chance? Yes. You never know, you know…”

 

Focus now switches though to 2022, a season where McLaren will hope to put themselves in the conversation more regularly for victories.

Ricciardo expects that the new regulations coming for this upcoming season will create more opportunities for unexpected winners, a trend which already was forming in 2021.

“I think the new cars are very exciting for F1 because they should mix things up a bit,” said Ricciardo.

“I mean, this year things were quite mixed up at times: we saw a few different winners and a lot of teams on the podium. I think next year opens the door to more of that.

“The main thing we all want next year is closer racing – to follow a car in front easier and have more battles.”

Norris echoed those sentiments, saying that 2022 is all about entertaining the fans.

“Yeah, exactly that: to put on a really good show for the fans,” the Briton explained.

“2022 is going to be a good year.”

 

 

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