Daniel Ricciardo says little perks that came with his Italian Grand Prix victory related to Dale Earnhardt and Ayrton Senna make his first win for McLaren more special.
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown promised Ricciardo a drive in Earnhardt’s 1984 Wrangler Chevrolet Monte Carlo that he owns when he scored his first podium for the team. The Australian duly achieved that by standing on the top step at Monza, and jokes that might have won him the No. 3 car outright.
“Maybe he gives me the car?!” Ricciardo said. “I think it was always a podium, I get to drive it. We never talked about a win, so I gave him my shoe that he drank out of, so maybe he gives me the car. It’s a good trade.
“Yeah, there’s like a couple of things, like two heroes: Dale Earnhardt, big hero of mine, and to have a chance to get behind the wheel of one of his cars is crazy. That will certainly be a ‘pinch me’ moment.
“The other one… I’m sorry if I sound a bit self-absorbed now but when I think of McLaren I think of Senna. That’s the early memories and I’ve seen the trophies in the cabinet at the MTC (McLaren Technology Centre) and to have a winning trophy now with my name in pretty much the same cabinet is crazy. These are like two little things that I certainly appreciate and they are two little surreal moments that I guess have hit me.”
The moment @DanielRicciardo added his own piece of McLaren history to the MTC trophy cabinet. 🏆🥰
And he picked a spot alongside a very special trophy. 👏🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/Umk6gu1I8H
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 16, 2021
Having not won since his victory in Monte Carlo during his last season for Red Bull in 2018, Ricciardo says it’s the potential for special days that kept driving him.
“It means everything. 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! I think through it all and 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.”