MELBOURNE – Daniel Ricciardo thinks he once won the Australian Grand Prix but for three years without any Formula One action at Albert Park kept him anxious to race on home soil.
The 32-year-old will get his wish this weekend when the World Championship Circuit returns to Melbourne for the first time since the 2020 race was closed at 11 a.m. as the COVID-19 epidemic first gripped Australia.
The last race of the eight-time Grand Prix winner in Melbourne, his first for Renault, effectively ended within the first few seconds when he lost his front end on the grass on the side of the track, leaving him feeling even more aspiring.
The Australian Herald told the Sun newspaper: “In a way, it’s a lot like, ‘You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.’
“When I look back, obviously we were there in 2020 but we didn’t race, we were there in 2019 but my race didn’t last very long.
“It looks like the last time I actually did a proper race in 2018 so it’s been a long time so I’m very, very excited to get back.
“Whether we compete or not, I think it would be a good time to just race on home soil.”
Now that McLaren is in his second season, finishing 14th in the season-opener in Bahrain and being forced to retire in Saudi Arabia, Ricciardo has good reason to question his car’s competitiveness.
This is in stark contrast to his former team the Red Bulls, who have already won their first win of the season through world champion Max Verstappen.
Ricciardo, who has twice finished fourth at Albert Park with the Red Bull, admits there will always be questions about his decision to leave the team at the end of the 2018 season.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he added. “Of course at the time I felt it was the right thing for me. You stand by it …
“It’s not something I regret going back or think I should have done differently.”
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