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Daniel Ricciardo

Ricciardo: I was thrown to the wolves on my F1 debut

10 years after he first lined up on the grid, Daniel Ricciardo has been reflecting on how he felt when he made his F1 debut - and what he would now tell his younger self.

Ricciardo seat fitting
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To news overview © McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo has been reflecting on his Formula 1 debut and admits that he was overwhelmed after being given only one week's notice that he would be racing.

The Australian first lined up on the grid at the British Grand Prix in 2011 when he was 21 years old. Looking back now, Ricciardo says that he would tell his younger self to relax more, having felt that he tried to prepare too much for his first race weekend.

"I remember my first race at Silverstone and I was trying to do too much," Ricciardo said in a McLaren interview. "To be fair though, I was thrown to the wolves because I was only told a week beforehand that I’d be racing. I wore myself out trying to do too much.

"It wasn’t the perfect preparation. You’ve only got so many hours in a day and I was trying to take in as much information as I could in a short space of time. I was trying to be a hero when, really, the key was to just get the basics right."

Ricciardo admits that he wasn't quite ready for the prospect of competing alongside the likes of Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher, who were both on the grid when he first joined F1.

"I think I was pretty overwhelmed by it all at first," the Australian explained. "I had watched F1 from a young age and then when I finally got there, mentally, I wasn’t prepared.

"You aspire to get to F1, so you kind of put it on a pedestal, but then you’re there on the grid with the likes of Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso – guys I watched battle wheel-to-wheel when I was growing up – and suddenly you’ve got to race against them.

"I would definitely tell my younger self to relax - everyone’s started out from a similar point in karts and they’ve all had similar feelings when they were in your shoes. And then I would say to try to enjoy it as much as possible, don’t stress yourself out too much.

"By my third race I had built some confidence and started to believe that I belonged in F1, but for those first two races I felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights."

Ricciardo made his debut in Formula 1 with HRT before getting a seat at Toro Rosso in 2012. He went on to step up to Red Bull in 2014, and left for Renault in 2019 before his switch to McLaren ahead of the 2021 season.

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