Daniel Ricciardo says his breakthrough Formula 1 victory for McLaren at the Italian Grand Prix was fuelled from feeling “pretty dark” after Friday’s qualifying session.
Ricciardo’s shock win at Monza ended McLaren’s nine-year drought without winning that stretched back to Brazil 2012, leading home team-mate Lando Norris in a one-two finish.
The Australian had yet to win a race since leaving Red Bull at the end of 2018, with a two-year stint at Renault delivering only two podiums before he switched to McLaren this year.
Opening up on his victory, Ricciardo explained how his anger at missing a top-three grid slot in qualifying gave him extra motivation and channeled his frustration into his driving.
“I was pretty dark after the qualifying,” Ricciardo said. “Something in me, I was like: I just don’t want to be here anymore in terms of like…I want to win, I want to be the guy. Being like close, it just fuelled me more than anything.
“Obviously it [qualifying] was good and the team were: ‘it’s a good session, you should be happy’. And I appreciate that it was, relative to this year it was a good session, but that’s when the competitor in me just really came out.
“I can’t even explain it. It was just like something, like a burning feeling inside of me, and I was just like: ‘no, it’s not good enough.’
“I was like blinkers on for the rest of the weekend. It’s easy to say now because I won. But like, honestly, there was something that came over me, particularly after Friday evening, and I was I guess a man on a mission.”
Ricciardo said he consumed a “primal” feeling before claiming his first win in over three years, something he’d experienced during his first season at Red Bull in 2014 when he outperformed world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
“I’ve definitely carried confidence through race weekends, and it has been there at moments for sure, but not to that level,” Ricciardo said. “That was something that hopefully not many can relate to, because it feels kind of primal. But it’s why I do it as well.
“I don’t just say that to sound cool in front of the camera. It truly is just the other side to me, which, when it does come out, I know that it’s so powerful.
“It was like 2014, when I had what you can call the breakthrough year. That’s when I got to let those emotions show on track. And that’s why it became so powerful for me.”
Ricciardo had openly admitted he needed the summer break to reset following a difficult first half of the year, failing to finish higher than fifth place in the opening 11 races.
The eight-time Grand Prix winner believes the Monza weekend now gives him a platform to produce more consistent performances, believing he won’t need to revert back to channeling those feelings to get the best out of himself.
“I believe so. I want to be there, because just the competitor in me, I like that. I like that kind of fire in me,” he said. “It’s kind of like the chip on the shoulder: I like that feeling. It kind of makes you feel alive. And it’s a good angry.
“You take a lot of energy from that anger. But after the weekend, I don’t think it’s like I need to tap into that place all the time to get it out of myself.
“I think I drew a lot of confidence from that weekend, and also the team, I think a lot of them have supported me and believed in me from the start.
“The weekend kind of just reassured everyone, so I think as a team moving forward, we can be quietly confident.”