Ricciardo: Italian GP win is 'why we love F1' after 'foreign' 2021 season

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Daniel Ricciardo says the euphoria of his win at the Italian Grand Prix is "why we love" Formula 1.

The McLaren led almost every lap at Monza after taking the lead from Max Verstappen at the start and controlling the race, even scoring the fastest lap on the final lap.

And after a season that has seen the Australian struggle to extract the maximum from the McLaren car, and after a tricky journey since leaving Red Bull at the end of 2018, Ricciardo admits his unexpected eighth career win was more than welcome.

"It means everything," he said post-race.

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"I definitely try not to make, or dictate, my life happiness around the sport because it’s been three-and-a-half years since I won, so I’d be pretty miserable most of the time if I just based my happiness on winning races.

“But I think, like, a lot has happened since Monaco 2018, so to be back here in this moment that’s why we love the sport. It makes all those crappier days worth it and it’s as simple as that."

As for his difficult year so far, which has seen him largely outshone by teammate Lando Norris, Ricciardo credited a reset over the summer for re-finding his mojo.

"It’s just wild, but deep down I never lost faith or the belief and I think I needed to step back and that’s where I think having some time off in August helped, and I truly think that helped this weekend, to get to this position," he explained.

"It feels, I don’t know what the word is… it’s reassuring for me. I believe in myself obviously; I think everyone does to get to this point in the sport.

"I’ve certainly been challenged this year and you know the sport is just a tricky one. It’s not so black and white I guess, and sometimes you do struggle to find some answers.

"But I think you have to stay true to the course and you can easily get lost as well.

"I think, deep down I would have moments of frustration or moments of dropping my head but I kind of made a point never to let that last."

Ricciardo was also delighted that he could perform when it mattered as McLaren had the speed to battle Mercedes and Red Bull.

“The whole year has been something, something like a little foreign for me, something that’s been more challenging I think than I’ve had before,” he added.

“Obviously everyone sees. We’re an international sport so everyone has been aware of some of the struggles I’ve had this year.

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“I think to come back from that, not only to win but as a team to get a 1-2… I don’t know. It’s crazy.

“I think after Friday… even before Friday, but I knew after Friday that we had something this weekend.

“I think that’s why I was so kind of like just fired up because I knew it could have been a little bit better and I just didn’t want to waste that opportunity.

"Obviously, I haven’t had that many this year, or put myself in that position, so yeah, I think from that moment on it was pretty much on.”