Daniel Ricciardo 2021 Belgian Grand Prix

McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo is looking ahead to his 200th F1 race this weekend. (Photo: F1)

Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo is eagerly anticipating the weekend ahead, set to notch up his 200th Formula One race in Belgium on Sunday.

Daniel Ricciardo says he has a ‘renewed energy and focus’ after spending the mid-season summer period having a ‘mental break’ in the USA.

Perth-born Ricciardo will become just the 19th man in Formula One history to race in 200 Grand Prixs when he takes to the track this weekend at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Behind only Mark Webber for the most Grand Prixs raced by an Australian, the McLaren driver was in a reflective mood at Thursday’s media briefing when reminiscing on his 11-year Formula One career.

“It’s exciting, it’s obviously something I’ve really dedicated my life to, so to be here 200 Grand Prixs after and still loving it and enjoying it, and for the most part being competitive, it’s a nice feeling,” he told reporters on Thursday.

The Australian has secured seven wins and 31 podiums in his illustrious career but said it’s the personal moments that he recalls the most.

“There are just moments along the way, even races which didn’t end up being victories or podiums,” he said.

“I remember 2014 with [Fernando] Alonso in Germany, I battled him for a few laps on older tyres and I felt at the time he was expecting me to let him go and do his race, because I wasn’t really in his race, but I thought that I’ll make a battle of it.

“I don’t know if he will see that as a point in time, but I felt that was a point in time where I truly gained his respect.”

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Having endured a mixed start to his McLaren career, Ricciardo is currently positioned ninth in the Championship – six places behind teammate Lando Norris.

“It has not been all roses,” Ricciardo conceded, “but it is really just the on track that has not been, but as far as me personally in the team environment it has been really, really good.

“But it is just the results that have not been to what I would like, so to switch off and escape and completely remove myself from the sport for two weeks was nice.”

Looking ahead to this weekend’s race at Spa-Francorchamps, the 2014 Belgian GP winner said he was excited to drive at one of F1’s ‘cool’ circuits.

“I am not looking as far ahead as what result we will get, are we going to get a podium or this or that, I’ll arrive at each race just excited,” Ricciardo said.

“Spa is an awesome track; it is one of the few tracks that is awesome on a Saturday and a Sunday. It is a real racer’s track, you can overtake. If you have a good car, you can really make a race of it.

“Just excited and hopefully the end result is a good one, but I will just take each day as it comes and enjoy being at one of the cool circuits.”

Ricciardo has a successful history in Belgium, securing a top four finish in three of his last five races at Spa. He last stood on an F1 podium in 2020 at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

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