Daniel Ricciardo says he is “lost for words” after leading team mate Lando Norris home for McLaren’s first win in almost nine years.
Ricciardo led the Italian Grand Prix from the start, only losing the lead during the pit stop cycle. The McLaren driver held off a train of cars including team mate Norris to take McLaren’s first win since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix and his first win since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix.
“It’s about time!,” says Ricciardo. “I’m, for once, lost for words.”
Ricciardo passed polesitter Max Verstappen on the run down to turn one after getting a superior launch off the line when the lights went out.
“To be honest, even if we got the start, it was never a guarantee that we would lead the whole race,” Ricciardo says. “I was able to just hold firm out front the first stint. I don’t think we had like mega speed, but it was enough just to obviously keep Max behind.
“To lead literally from start to finish – I don’t think any of us expected that.”
After a challenging opening half to the season in 2021 – his first for McLaren – Ricciardo says he has returned from the summer break with renewed confidence in the car.
“There was something in me on Friday. I knew something good was to come, let’s just say that,” he says.
“I’ve just been a sandbagging S.O.B. the whole year, that’s all. Thirds, fourths, fifths – you might as well just win, so that’s what I did. Honestly, the August break was good just to reset. I felt better the last three weekends.”
The victory was Ricciardo’s first since departing Red Bull at the end of the 2018 season and his first ever grand prix win in a car that is not a Red Bull.
“To not only win but get a one-two – it’s insane. For McLaren to be on the podium is huge, let alone a one-two, so this is for team papaya.”
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2021 Italian Grand Prix
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