The Australian has parted ways with McLaren after the last Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after two tough Formula 1 seasons as a McLaren driver.
A key event was Ricciardo’s victory at Monza in 2021, though he greatly outstripped teammate Lando Norris’s pace.
This eventually led to the premature termination of a deal that should have been three years, with McLaren moving to replace it with fellow Australian friend Oscar Piastri for 2023.
Ricciardo talked about his struggles at McLaren over the past two years in the latest episode of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation’s In the Fast Lane podcast.
He acknowledged that overanalyzing his lack of speed became a problem and eventually distracted him from his natural driving style.
“It’s definitely something I’ve been thinking about,” he said.
“I feel like the season is over, I’ve already let it go. But I’m sure I’ll think about it over time anyway, because that’s a bit… I don’t want to tell a secret, but the constant struggles I’ve had, at least for me, were foreign.
“We’ve all had bad races, but having the same amount as I did and sometimes being at a one-second speed on the lap, I could scratch my head.”
“I think it occurred to me that I drove very deliberately on my summer vacation last year. It wasn’t natural anymore. I was one step behind.”
“I was like, ‘I think we’re trying to do too much.
“I think about my first qualifying round with McLaren over and over. I beat Lando in qualifying.”
“I still didn’t really know the car. I don’t know how many times I beat him in two years, but it wasn’t much.
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36
Photo: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images
“I was probably in better shape at the time, probably because I did it at a time when I lacked my feelings, instincts and lack of knowledge of the car.”
“It’s not about impressing anyone or anything. It’s more like, okay, after reviewing our bad weekends we got caught up in something like ‘we should start driving like this or tune the car like this’?
“Of course, at some point we could go a little too deep and get a little too lost.”
Ricciardo sincerely conceded that the car had exposed some of its weaknesses, refraining from blaming its failure purely on the analytical level.
“Would I have killed if we hadn’t dived so deep? I still don’t believe I would kill in this car,” he said.
“It definitely revealed some of my weaknesses. I have to admit that.
“But sometimes I think we’re probably underperforming because we bury ourselves too deep. And that’s a real thing. Especially now.
“Race weekends are very busy, very full. You only have a certain amount of energy – mental energy, physical, whatever.
“If you spend a little more mental energy trying to analyze, you’re probably a little flushed when you get in the car.”