McLaren have Daniel Ricciardo expectation for 2022 season after losing Lando Norris duel

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McLaren’s executive racing director Andrea Stella believes there is “more to come” from Daniel Ricciardo after the Australian had a rollercoaster of a season. Ricciardo had a shaky start to his 2021 campaign as he was constantly outperformed by his team-mate, Lando Norris.

The 22-year-old picked up three podium finishes and had more than double the points of Ricciardo heading into the summer break.

But Ricciardo came back fighting in the second half of the season as the 32-year-old grabbed McLaren’s first win for almost a decade at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, with Norris finishing second for the Woking-based team.

Speaking over team radio, Ricciardo said: “Deep down I knew this was going to come, so thanks for having my back. And for anyone who thought I left, I never left. Just moved aside for a while.”

Speaking after the season, he said: “I appreciate that message was going to be directed at I guess people who did maybe think that I’d checked out and that I was on my way out or a little bit washed up or whatever.

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“But still, first and foremost, that message was for me because there were times where I did lose a little bit of faith and I did second guess myself like, why am I struggling so much? Do I have now a little bit of fear that I’m not pushing the car as much?

“I knew I didn’t, but still when things aren’t going well, some of these questions pop up. So the ‘I never left’ was also for me to be like, I can still do it, I still belong here. And anyone that forgot, then forget no more.”

Now, with a huge overhaul of F1 regulations in 2022, Stella believes there is a lot more to come from his driver.

“We know there is more to come with Daniel,” Stella told reporters last month. “I am very optimistic from this point of view, and let me just say that working with him is a real pleasure.

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“He creates a really nice atmosphere in the team, which is a good foundation for the technical and driving development.”

Ricciardo ended the season eighth in the standings on 115 points with his team-mate Norris in sixth with 160 points.

But assessing the season as a whole, Stella admitted Ricciardo has come on leaps and bounds.

“The progress through the season has been tangible,” Stella asserted. “Even if we look at Saudi, and I want to say that because this may have been a low piece of information, but actually he was very quick in qualifying.

“In Q1 he was P3 or something and then in Q2 actually there was damage to the car on a kerb which took Daniel out of contention,” he said. “Otherwise his performance in qualifying in Saudi would have been very strong.

“We have a sort of development plan, and I am looking forward to being able to see what we will be able to do next year with Daniel.”

When rating his season, Ricciardo said: “The first part of the season is probably a four, the second part a seven.” Accepting the average of a “massive” 5.5, he added that it was “not through lack of trying”.

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