Daniel Ricciardo admits his 2018 F1 season was a mentally challenging year, but the Aussie believes he has emerged stronger from his trials and tribulations.
Ricciardo kicked off his campaign with the ambition of fighting for the title with Red Bull Racing, an aspiration legitimately supported by his wins in China and Monaco.
It would be all downhill from there on however, with mechanical failures or grid penalties persistently undermining his efforts and depriving him of a single podium finish in the 15 races that followed his triumph in the Principality.
Ricciardo absorbed the highs, the lows and everything in between, sealing his year with a move away from the Red Bull family and on to Renault.
“There’s the contract stuff, the high of Monaco, the low of the DNFs – it’s been by far the most intense and challenging season I’ve ever experienced,” he said in an interview published on Red Bull Racing’s website.
“Mentally it’s tested me, but I feel it’s only going to make me stronger down the track.
“That weekend [in China], I think it sums up the rollercoaster the year as been. All the highs and lows, frustration and joy rolled into one.
“I remember on the podium on Sunday I was holding in a lot of my emotion because it just plays with you. It does.
“But then, to come out of that weekend, I wasn’t just proud of what I’d achieved, I was very proud of the team and proud of everyone who helped me get to that point on Sunday afternoon.
“Also, I heard that the move to take the lead of the race was voted overtake of the year, or something like that. So that’s pretty cool. Big weekend for sure.”
At the time, it was believed his hard-fought win in Shanghai had perhaps been a mere appetizer, with Ricciardo satisfying his appetite again on the streets of Monte-Carlo.
“As challenging and as low as it’s been at times, I’ve also had the biggest highs and the most special moments in my life. Monaco was huge,” he added.
“The biggest thing with Monaco was what happened afterwards. I was waking up in the middle of the night, padding to the bathroom, looking in the mirror and saying ‘It really happened’.”
With 2018 now in the rear view mirror, Ricciardo will launch himself wholeheartedly into his Renault challenge, but not before he heads back home, to the land down under, for some well-deserved down time.
“Yeah, absolutely. I’m always excited to go home,” he admits.
“I love home and I love the summer but I think this year more than any other year, it’ll be so nice to get home and to switch off.
“I’ll get out of the city and go to the farm and do nothing for a few days. I don’t think I’m going to tell any of my mates when I get home: I think I want just like three or four days with myself.
“After this year, what I want most of all is to just chill out for a bit!”