For the first time since 2019, Daniel Ricciardo will race in front of his home fans this weekend as the Australian Grand Prix makes a welcome return to the Formula 1 calendar after being absent for the past two years due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
Ricciardo has not had the best of luck in his home races in the past, with his best result coming in both 2016 and 2018 when he took fourth, although he was disqualified from an excellent second place on his Red Bull Racing debut at Albert Park back in 2014.
Now racing for the McLaren F1 Team, Ricciardo is excited to be racing once more in front of his own fans, and he is keen to experience the updated layout of the Albert Park track for the first time on Friday morning.
“It’s good to be home! I am beyond excited to get back out on track in Melbourne,” said Ricciardo. “Nothing beats a home crowd, and the Australian fans are some of the best in the world.
“I’ve been back in Perth since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and I feel rested, prepared and excited to get stuck into one of my favourite weekends of the year. It will also be great to try out the new layout for myself, particularly the sweeping right hander as it seems fast.”
Ricciardo has yet to score a point in 2022, with the Australian having retired midway through the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix two weeks ago with a mechanical issue whilst on course for the top ten.
However, Ricciardo says that whilst the final result was disappointing, the team had made obvious progress with its MCL36 after a difficult opening weekend in Bahrain.
“The end to my race in Jeddah was frustrating but it was encouraging to see how the team’s hard work is starting to pay off bit by bit,” he said. “There were a lot of positives to take out of the weekend and I’m a lot more comfortable in the car.
“We still have a long way to go, and we’re focused on the task at hand. Let’s get back out there, fight as hard as we can and hopefully put on a bit of a show!”
“I’m excited to see what progress we can make” – Lando Norris
Team-mate Lando Norris made his Formula 1 debut in Australia back in 2019, although COVID-19 has prevented him from racing there again since.
Like Ricciardo, the British racer is keen to drive the new layout for the first time this weekend and see what kind of progress McLaren have made in the two weeks since Saudi Arabia. Having scored points that weekend thanks to a seventh-place finish, he is keen to add to his tally this coming weekend in Albert Park.
“I’m looking forward to getting out on track in the new car in Melbourne, especially with the changes they’ve made since we last raced there 3 years ago,” said Norris. “I’m excited to see what progress we can make.
“It’s a special race for me, as I made my debut there in 2019 and with the pandemic, we haven’t raced there since, so I’ve been working hard in the sim to get back up to speed with the track, especially with the new changes.
“The race in Jeddah showed the small steps we’ve made but we’ve still got a long way to go. The points were a nice reward for the team’s hard work. As a team, at track and back at the factory, we’re working hard to develop the car and unlock more performance, but we know we’ve got a long way to go.”