Daniel Ricciardo thinks he once won the Australian Grand Prix but three years without any Formula One action at Albert Park have left him eager to race on home soil.
The 32-year-old will achieve his wish this weekend when the World Championship Circuit 2020 race returns to Melbourne for the first time since it was canceled at 11 a.m. as the Covid-19 epidemic first gripped Australia.
The last race of the eight-time Grand Prix winner in Melbourne, which was his first for Reno, ended effectively in the first few seconds when he lost his front end in the grass of the trackside, making him feel more of a pang.
The Australian Herald told the Sun newspaper, “In a way, it’s kind of like, ‘You don’t know what you have until you go.’
“When I look back, obviously we were there in 2020 but we didn’t race. We were there in 2019 but my race didn’t last very long.
“It seems like the last time I actually did the right race in 2018, so it’s been a long time so I’m very excited to be back.
“Whether we are competitive or not, I think it would be a good time to race on home soil.”
Now in his second season at McLaren, after finishing 14th in the season-opener in Bahrain and being forced to retire in Saudi Arabia, Ricciardo has good reason to question the competitiveness of his car.
It is in stark contrast to his former team, the Red Bull, who have won their first season of the season through world champion Max Verstapen.
Ricciardo, who has twice finished fourth in Albert Park with the Red Bull, admits there will always be questions about his decision to leave the team at the end of the 2018 season.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he added. “Obviously at the time I thought it was the right thing for me.
“It’s not something I look back on and regret, or think I should do differently.”