Ricciardo: 'Man, we've got a group of winners here!'

Daniel Ricciardo says any doubts he may have had about the McLaren team's winning spirit were permanently wiped... The post Ricciardo: 'Man, we've got a group of winners here!' appeared first on F1i.com.

Ricciardo: 'Man, we've got a group of winners here!'

Daniel Ricciardo says any doubts he may have had about the McLaren team's winning spirit were permanently wiped out after his milestone win at Monza last month.

From the front row of the grid, Ricciardo immediately took the lead in the Italian Grand Prix and never looked back, crossing the chequered flag as Grand Prix winner for the first time since Monaco in 2018.

The remarkable triumph was a much needed shot in the arm for the Aussie who had endured a difficult first half of the 2021 season, during which he struggled to get on top of his Mercedes-powered MCL35m and compare favourably with teammate Lando Norris.

"It was needed, no doubt about it," Ricciardo said, speaking to Tom Clarkson on the latter's Beyond the Grid podcast.

"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.’

©McLaren

"But I felt comfortable, and that was all I needed. I was like, ‘Yeah, this is not overwhelming for me, this isn’t a forgotten feeling.’

"In my head, I’m telling myself, ‘This is where I belong, this is where I want to be.’ And I really drove that race with a comfort and a calmness.
"At times I was singing to myself, I was tapping the wheel, I was just enjoying it. And I wanted to enjoy it."

Beyond the sheer joy of leading home a McLaren 1-2 at Monza – the first for the Woking-based outfit since 2010, Ricciardo says that his biggest takeaway from that memorable weekend in September was the realization that his team is made of the right stuff.

  • Read also - Ricciardo: Earnhardt demo ride at COTA 'a dream come true'

"What [the win] did for the team was just as powerful," he 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."

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Horner: Hamilton 'the titan' has never faced a rival such as Max

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes Lewis Hamilton has never dealt with a championship rival as strong... The post Horner: Hamilton 'the titan' has never faced a rival such as Max appeared first on F1i.com.

Horner: Hamilton 'the titan' has never faced a rival such as Max

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner believes Lewis Hamilton has never dealt with a championship rival as strong as Max Verstappen during his career in F1.

Grand Prix racing's two top warriors are locked in a massive battle for supremacy that has all the makings of a classic F1 heavyweight matchup.

With six rounds to go in the 2021 championship and ahead of this weekend's US Grand Prix, Verstappen leads Hamilton in Drivers' standings by just six points.

In 2016, the title fight went down to the wire between Hamilton and his then main challenger, Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg.

The latter prevailed, but Horner believes that Hamilton's on track rivalry with Verstappen is unfolding on a different level this year.

"I think, inevitably, there’s always going to be an evolution," the Red Bull team boss told The Guardian.

"Lewis has had an amazing career and he’s still in fantastic form. He’s still a titan of the sport.

"The fact that Max is able to go toe-to-toe with him is probably something Lewis hasn’t had throughout his career – certainly through the championship years.

"There’s nothing with this degree of intensity.

"There’s obviously a lot at stake for him as he’s going for a record-breaking eighth championship, Max is going for his first and he knows he’s got many more years to come."

Should Verstappen triumph at the end of the season in Abu Dhabi, it would mark the fifth title conquered by a Red Bull driver in F1, with Sebastian Vettel clinching four consecutive crowns between 2010 and 2013.

But Horner admitted that winning the title this year would be Red Bull's "biggest achievement" yet given the unwavering hegemony enjoyed by Mercedes in the sport.

"It will be our biggest achievement," he said. "If you look at the strength of Mercedes, and the dominance they’ve had, it’s clear that nobody’s come near them for years.

"No one has put them under this kind of pressure at this stage of the season.

"So it will be an enormous achievement if we pull it off."

  • Read also: Perez predicting 'stronger performance' for Red Bull in Austin

The Briton also underscored how this year's campaign has been made more difficult by events unfolding off the track, with Horner alluding to Mercedes incessant "campaigning" against Red Bull's 2021 car.

"Compared to the championship years when we were competing with Ferrari and McLaren from 2010 to 2013 this has been very different," explained Horner.

"There is an awful lot more going on behind the scenes, constant campaigning of the FIA with all aspects of our car.

"You have to defend yourself if you come under attack as we have from the very beginning of the year – whether it was the concept of the aerodynamics with the FIA to pit stops to other aspects of the chassis, you name it."

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