Daniel Ricciardo has made a bold declaration as he zeroes in on his first Formula 1 world championship with McLaren.
An Australian hasn’t lifted the Formula 1 world championship trophy in 40 years, but Daniel Ricciardo has declared he’s on the cusp of breaking the drought in his new colours.
The Western Australian’s new racing team, McLaren, last night showed off their new car for the 2021 season, in which Ricciardo will make his McLaren debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 29.
An Australian hasn’t tasted Formula 1 world championship glory since Alan Jones in 1980, and while Ricciardo says he’s likely not ready to take the crown this year, the 31-year-old believes his time will come in his three-year stint with McLaren.
“I truly believe I can (win the world championship) and I believe I can in this next chapter with McLaren,” Ricciardo told Nine News.
“This year is certainly a stretch, and that’s not to be pessimistic, but there’s probably not enough rule changes happening to swing it massively. I believe in my ability to nudge the car a little bit further up, but I think probably once the new rules come in 2022 we’ll get a pretty good picture.
“I think everything McLaren is doing as a team – for me it looks like they are on the right path to give me that.”
One of Ricciardo’s strongest weapons in his first season with McLaren could be the team’s new Mercedes engine.
McLaren’s use of a Honda engine proved fruitless and their switch to a Renault motor was marred by reliability issues, but McLaren principal Andreas Seidl believes German manufacturer Mercedes could launch his team into an era of dominance.
“We wanted to get a championship-winning power unit in the back of our car,” Seidl told Motorsport Magazine.
Ricciardo doubts he will win his maiden Formula 1 world championship title this year because the former Renault driver sees the 2021 season as an experimental phase. Not only is he set to operate with a new motor, he will also have to adjust to McLaren’s new aerodynamics.
“I obviously like to think (I’ll have a sneaky chance next year). Probably by the middle of this year we’ll have an understanding of how the development for next year is tracking, so I could probably answer it better then,” Ricciardo said.
“But even so, it’s probably all speculation until the cars get on track.
“We might look really good on paper … but you never know what the other teams are doing. But I think the right people are in place to make this a very successful team.”
Ricciardo hasn’t won a world championship race since conquering the field at Monaco in 2018, a race in which he edged Formula 1 greats Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
Last year he had two podium finishes and was ranked fifth overall.
Ricciardo said podium finishes would be his aim in 2021.
“I made a big point to get back on the podium (in 2020) and I did that. It was really good to get back up there,” Ricciardo said.
“Starting this year I want to be aiming to be back on the podium. If that happens to be a win as opposed to a second or a third then of course I’ll take it, but I’ll set the bar at a podium expectation for 2021 and see what that delivers.”
Australian Formula 1 fans are hoping the next trademark Ricciardo shoey is not far away.
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