Daniel Ricciardo named biggest disappointment of 2021 F1 season despite McLaren win

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Former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne has labelled Daniel Ricciardo’s debut season with the team a “disappointment” after he was out-performed by teammate Lando Norris. Ricciardo, 32, joined from Renault ahead of the 2021 campaign following the departure of Carlos Sainz Jr to Ferrari.

The Australian’s finest day of the season undoubtedly came in Monza, where after starting second on the grid, he capitalised on a crash between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag and an eighth career win.

Not only was it Ricciardo’s first Grand Prix win since 2018, when he was driving for Red Bull, but the fact Norris was second made it a first one-two for McLaren since the 2010 season, when Lewis Hamilton led home Jenson Button in Canada.

It was also a first F1 win of any kind for the British team since Button prevailed in Sao Paulo at the 2012 Brazil Grand Prix.

However, that day in Italy proved a rare bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for Ricciardo, his only podium finish as he came eighth in the drivers’ standings, scoring 115 points.

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Indeed, he was outshone by Norris, who ultimately finished sixth on 160 points, and the young star was only denied a famous race win himself when adverse weather scuppered his chances late in the race in Russia.

And in an interview with RTBF, Vandoorne pinpointed ‘The Honey Badger’s’ failure to shine as one of the let-downs in an otherwise memorable F1 season.

“If I have to point to one small disappointment about the season, I would almost say Daniel Ricciardo,” said the Belgian.

“It’s true that he won at Monza, but in general he was a little bit behind Lando Norris, whereas he is usually the leader in the teams he drives for.

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“If you take away his win in Italy, 2021 is a bit of a difficult season for Daniel.”

Vandoorne, 29, debuted for McLaren in 2016, replacing Fernando Alonso for the Bahrain Grand Prix after the Spaniard was ruled out with injury.

He replaced Button as a full-time driver for the team in 2017 and 2018, but failed to make a serious impression and currently serves as a test driver at Mercedes.

And he did acknowledge that moments like Ricciardo’s win, and Esteban Ocon triumphing in Belgium, were refreshing in a season dominated by title contenders Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

“It’s always a great feeling, especially in races where things weren’t going well for Max and Lewis,” he continued.

“I think everyone enjoyed seeing Ocon’s first win and then Daniel’s success after a difficult period for him. Those are the events that everyone remembers in a season.”

Vandoorne, who started 41 races with McLaren, has also driven in Formula E and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

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