Ricciardo scored McLaren’s first victory in almost nine years by winning the Italian Grand Prix at Monza last month, leading home team-mate Lando Norris for a 1-2.
Norris himself came close to winning the following race in Sochi two weeks ago, only for a late rain shower to end his hopes after failing to make the switch to intermediate tyres at the right time.
The upswing in form for McLaren has helped its push for third place in the constructors’ championship against Ferrari, and given hope to a more open fight at the head of the field following a period of Red Bull and Mercedes dominance.
The team has regularly downplayed its chances of being a consistent threat in the fight at the front, and Ricciardo felt that while it had got in the mix on occasion this year, its best form was still largely track-dependent.
“We’ve definitely been looking like [fighting Mercedes and Red Bull] certainly more often in the last few weeks,” Ricciardo said.
“I think Lando has been there pretty much all year, and it’s starting to look more promising for me as well.
“But looking at Lando’s race [in Sochi], the part in the dry was very strong, contending there.
“I think it’s still a little track-dependent for us as a team. I don’t think we’re universally strong across the board, at every track layout we go to.
“The ones that we’re strong on, we seem to be able to really take it to the top two teams.”
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said that he broadly agreed with Ricciardo’s assessment, and that the team was remaining realistic about its current standing in the F1 pecking order, with its focus being on beating Ferrari to third place in the constructors’ championship.
“I think with the picture we have seen so far this year, yes I would agree that it will be track-specific,” Seidl said.
“We have seen occasionally this year that we were able to fight even for pole positions or keep faster cars behind us on specific tracks.
“At the same time, I think with the development of the car throughout the season, plus a better understanding also of the team and how to get even more performance out of the package that we have, I think we made steps in terms of car performance at all kinds of tracks, as we have seen for example in Hungary.
“But I think we have a realistic view on where we are right now. At least with the Ferraris, we have everything in our hands in order to keep them behind us.
“At the same time, whenever there are opportunities to score podium results, we want to be there.”