Daniel Ricciardo’s victory at Monza was a step in the right direction for McLaren, but he’s refused to let the triumph go to his head.

Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has refused to let the career-defining victory at Monza go to his head, acknowledging that McLaren is still leaps and bounds behind the powerhouse teams.

Ricciardo’s 2021 season was in dire straits at the halfway mark, with the 32-year-old repeatedly being outclassed by McLaren teammate Lando Norris on race day.

The young Brit had registered three podiums after 10 races, while Ricciardo was still searching for a top three finish.

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But the Perth driver silenced his critics by winning the Italian Grand Prix earlier this month, helping McLaren claim the first 1-2 finish of the year.

It marked Ricciardo’s first F1 victory since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix, when he was representing Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen.

Ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix, Ricciardo was asked whether he at any point thought he might never win another F1 race.

“I didn’t really think like that, even through the struggles,” Ricciardo said.

“I never really got into the mindset of, ‘Is this it? Was Monaco the last time I’ll get there?’ I knew I’d probably have to work a little bit harder for it at times, but no.

“Like last year for example, getting the Renault back on the podium, that was such a target and achieving that, I took a lot of fulfilment and obviously so did the team.

“I mean Monza was, yes, if you like, it did make everything worth it I guess, but it was just nice, nice to stand back up there and to do it with another team. There’s certainly a sense of pride in that, in making it work and getting to that top step with another outfit and none other than McLaren so there’s certainly some feel good stuff about it. I like winning, winning is good so it was good to do it again.”

When asked whether he believed McLaren could win another Grand Prix in Sochi this weekend, Ricciardo brushed off suggestions of a dream repeat.

“Ah, come on, mate let’s just chill for a bit,” he laughed.

“We’re just going to keep doing our best. Victory aside, I’ve felt better you know the last few weekends, I’ve felt more comfortable and of course just excited to come racing.”

Norris echoed his teammate’s remarks when asked the same question: “Probably not, but we’ll try our best, we’ll try maximise everything.

“There’s obviously tracks we’re definitely better at and ones we’re worse at but there’s also always these opportunities that arise for us that we’re normally good at taking advantage of and being in a good position at the right time and so on.

“I think we had an amazing weekend in Monza … but it doesn’t mean we’re going to be like that every single weekend from now on, we didn’t find anything magical. We just had a bit of a better weekend, things flowed a bit better for us, the car suited the track more and that’s the way it’s going to be for the rest of the season.

“Some track we’re going to struggle more, but how good or bad we’re going to be, I don’t know yet.”

The Russian Grand Prix is scheduled to get underway at 10pm AEST on Sunday, with the qualifying session taking place at 10pm on Saturday.

Originally published as ‘Let’s just chill’: Daniel Ricciardo’s reality check after Monza triumph

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By Isak

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