Daniel Ricciardo’s rise in Montreal was based on “self-therapy” – not on Jacques Villeneuve

There was some extent towards the tip of last 12 months when it was seriously felt that Daniel Ricciardo would take over Sergio Pérez's Formula 1 seat at Red Bull in 2025.

Ricciardo made it clear on his mid-season return with AlphaTauri (now RB) that his ultimate goal was to get back into the Red Bull, the identical seat he left in 2018. As Pérez struggled through the second half of the season, speculation grew that this might occur.

Yet Ricciardo did little or no to take care of his position firstly of 2024. He was often behind teammate Yuki Tsunoda and, other than his P4 run in sprint qualifying and race in Miami, had scored no points before Canada and was 14th within the Drivers' Championship. Meanwhile, Pérez performed well enough to secure a contract extension until 2026, ending Ricciardo's hopes of a promotion within the near future.

Following Pérez's confirmation, Ricciardo admitted that he “probably has to take responsibility for not having done anything too spectacular” this season. “If you want to fight for a top spot, you have to do some pretty great things,” he said.

Until Canadian Grand PrixDue to Ricciardo's difficult begin to the season, his goal was not to fight for a top position, but for his current position.

No one questioned Ricciardo's future greater than Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 F1 world champion who was a part of Sky Sports' broadcast team at his home race in Montreal.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JUNE 8: Jacques Villeneuve looks on in the paddock before the final practice session for the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 8, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jacques Villeneuve sharply criticized Daniel Ricciardo in Montreal. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“Why is he still here?” Villeneuve asked of Ricciardo, questioning why he continued to have problems along with his cars. He explained that “his image has kept him in Formula 1 more than his actual results.” A brutal criticism that quickly went viral, considering how rare it’s for a pundit to precise his opinion so freely on an English-language Formula 1 broadcast.

Villeneuve was harsh – perhaps too harsh – but few would dispute the reality of his statement. Ricciardo has made it clear all 12 months that he knows he has not done enough job and wishes to perform a lot better.

Just 24 hours later, the time had come. In tricky, windy conditions, Ricciardo not only made it into Q3 for the second time this season, but additionally placed his RB automobile fifth on the grid, just two tenths off pole position. Perfect timing, especially given Tsunoda's confirmation for 2025 at RB just 90 minutes earlier.

That meant that Ricciardo went into the media after qualifying with a few of his old swagger and glory. He knew what questions would come, that Villeneuve's name can be mentioned. Ricciardo didn't really take heed to what was being said about him, he said, only that he “heard him talking shit.”

“But he always does,” Ricciardo continued. “I think he hit his head a few times too many. I don't know if he's playing hockey or something. But yeah. Whatever. I'm not going to pay him any attention.” Then got here a “but…” and he leaned near the microphones: “All those people can go to hell! I'd like to say more, but it's okay. We'll leave him behind.”

It was only qualifying, in spite of everything. We had seen Ricciardo shine like that within the sprints in Miami, but then he disappeared when it mattered within the Grand Prix sessions. This was still a superbly timed response to Villeneuve's criticism.

But to link the 2 directly can be a disservice to Ricciardo. He revealed that after Monaco he made an enormous effort to search out out why things weren't working, going beyond his on-track performance and data like braking points or corner speeds. He contacted not only the team's management and engineers, but additionally his inner circle off the track and asked them to be open with their feedback.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JUNE 9: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia drives the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 during the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 9, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Ricciardo qualified fifth and finished eighth on a rainy weekend in Montreal. (Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

“I thought to myself: OK, what are some other things that might be affecting my performance?” said Ricciardo. “Am I not going into a race weekend full of energy or am I not having this or that feeling?”

“I think I just did a little self-therapy after Monaco and sat back and looked at what I might be doing wrong off the track. Or maybe I'm devoting too much of my time to other people and am a bit worn out on race day or something like that.

“Deep down, I do know what I'm able to. And I just must make sure that I'm in that place to give you the chance to do it more often.”

And making sure those flashes of speed translate into something valuable on Sunday when it counts. Ricciardo's Canadian Grand Prix was anything but easy. A car skidding on the start line – which Ricciardo suspected was due to a clutch problem – triggered a jump start and a five-second penalty. He managed to survive the chaos and capitalise on some late incidents to score four points for P8, almost doubling his points total for the season. That alone felt like an achievement for Ricciardo in the high-pressure conditions.

“All in all, I'm blissful,” he said. “It's hard to be perfect in these races. I made mistakes, after all sometimes we were just attempting to survive. So I'm just blissful that we managed it in the long run.”

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JUNE 9: 8th placed Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB celebrates with his fans after the F1 Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 9, 2024 in Montreal, Quebec. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

Canada was Ricciardo's first Grand Prix through which he scored points. (Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images)

The most vital thing for Ricciardo from the Montreal weekend was that things went well from the moment he did his first laps in FP1 through to the race. For the primary time this season, each session felt positive.

“It's just nice to be competitive from Friday to Sunday,” said Ricciardo. “I'm happy. (I just have to) keep going.”

Ricciardo still has time to prove what he can do to Red Bull and secure a contract extension with RB. If a change does occur, reserve driver Liam Lawson is able to step in. The young New Zealander proved that last 12 months as his five-race stand-in, overcoming Ricciardo's injury. But there isn’t any reason for the team to rush into this decision just yet.

Ricciardo hopes Montreal will probably be a turning point in his season, a breakthrough after the previous training sessions to raised understand what he did flawed and to take care of the sensation he had last weekend.

“I absolutely have to maintain the little energy, the little resentment that I brought with me into the weekend and maintain this level of intensity,” said Ricciardo.

“Sometimes it's a little bit… I don't know if I need to be a little angry or just boost my testosterone levels. But I think it helps me.”

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