Daniel Ricciardo will be on the front row of the grid for the first time since Mexico 2018 after he finished third in the Italian Grand Prix sprint race on Saturday, and the Australian admitted he is even thinking of the win for McLaren with the team last tasting victory at the Brazilian GP in 2012.
Although Valterri Bottas won the sprit race for Mercedes, the Finn will start from the back of the grid after accruing various penalties for replacing his power unit. That also means Max Verstappen will be alongside Ricciardo on the front row of the grid as the Dutchman has pole position, just as they were in Mexico 2018.
“I’ll probably dream a little bit about it [winning] tonight, and I’m ready to make that a reality for sure,” Ricciardo told the press. “Also, for McLaren it’s been a long time, for me it’s been a long time so yeah, it’s definitely refreshing to be back up here and yeah, we’re close.
“A few things might have to swing in our favour tomorrow but we’ll certainly put ourselves in the fight, in the hunt. So yeah, very excited to get going with that, and 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.”
McLaren tyre choice
Ricciardo also started the sprint race on the soft tyre, while both Mercedes cars and Max Verstappen started on the medium, a strategy which could be repeated in the race on Sunday.
“We knew obviously that with the short race as well, just try to take what you can but you also don’t really know what the others are going to do,” Ricciardo continued.
“I didn’t expect everyone around to be on medium. I think most were so you just don’t know and because it’s a new format, it’s only the second time that we’ve done this style of weekend.
“I think everyone’s still trying to figure it out but look, personally speaking it worked well for me today so happy with that and I’ll start on a supersoft tomorrow!”
For Ricciardo, his last victory came at the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix when he was with Red Bull, though he did manage two podium finishes in the 2020 Formula 1 season – at the Eifel Grand Prix and Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.