The 2021 campaign was a tough one for the Aussie, who suffered a little with homesickness thanks to the pandemic preventing him from being able to head home and see family members, whilst moving to a new team in McLaren had its own pitfalls.
Indeed, it took a while for him to truly get to grips with the new car after he joined from Renault, and though there were bright points – the Italian Grand Prix in particular – there were also a lot of lows that he’ll want to stamp out in 2022.
Undoubtedly, Ricciardo is one of the most talented drivers on the grid and if he can get to grips with the new McLaren in 2022, and the car is fast enough, he can absolutely challenge for race victories.
He’s said himself, though, there are still areas he needs to work on and improving damage limitation is going to be a facet he aims to get better at:
“Unless the car changes from a characteristic point of view, I am going to have to still improve some of my weaknesses. That’s the reality.
“If I want to be in a title fight I’ve got to still drive this car better on the, call it the bad days or the days that are a bit more difficult.
“It’s just all about awareness as well. Sometimes, just doing laps and laps and laps, I fall into, let’s say, my old technique or old style.
“It takes a bit more energy to drive in a way that is not natural. I need to just be mindful of when I’m falling back into the stuff that isn’t working at the time.”
As Monza showed in 2021, when Ricciardo has the opportunity to win a Grand Prix he will take it with both hands.
Last season was ultimately a below-par one for him but only because he has set such wonderful highs in the past, and re-reaching those heights was always going to be a challenge straight off the bat in joining a new team.
He’s had a year to settle in now, though, and will be keen to match Lando Norris stride for stride as McLaren aim to build on an overall productive 2021 season in the coming months of the new campaign.