Daniel Ricciardo admits thoughts of taking his first win for McLaren were in his mind after qualifying on the front row for the Italian Grand Prix.
McLaren has looked particularly quick throughout the Monza weekend, lining up fourth and fifth for the Sprint with Ricciardo going on to finish third ahead of Lando Norris in fourth. Valtteri Bottas’ grid penalty promotes them both to the top three for Sunday’s race and Ricciardo — who last won in 2018 in Monaco — feels he is in a position to fight for what would be a first win for McLaren since the end of 2012.
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“I’ll probably dream a little bit about it tonight, and I’m ready to make that a reality for sure,” Ricciardo said. “Also, for McLaren it’s been a long time, for me it’s been a long time so, it’s definitely refreshing to be back up here and yeah, we’re close. A few things might have to swing in our favor tomorrow but we’ll certainly put ourselves in the fight, in the hunt.
“I’m very excited to get going with that, and to try to make some good stuff happen. Obviously they were second here last year so yeah, we’re there or thereabouts. I’m hungry. Anyone who saw me after qualifying yesterday, I think they’re not surprised about this outcome today.”
Ricciardo’s race was set up by a strong start as he jumped his teammate and Lewis Hamilton, and while he admits he was a little tentative against Max Verstappen at the first chicane, he insists that won’t be the case on Sunday.
“I knew I had a good launch. As soon as you drop the clutch you just know. It just bites and grips and tells us ‘we’re on here.’ And then I had a good tow and I had also a clear line braking for Turn 1. So I was able to go quite deep and through maybe I could get Max for a second but then he had the inside for 1 and I think, if I stayed there, and tried to keep the inside for (Turn) 2, I don’t think there was enough room for two cars.
“It was just tight but that’s the first chicane. It was just good, hard racing and obviously I got Lando and Lewis, so it was still a good first lap for me.
“(Tomorrow will be) full attack. I mean, today that’s what gave me the chance. A good start… I thought maybe I would get Max in Turn 1 but he had the inside, so I look forward to tomorrow.”