Extended 2020 off-season 'reiterated' Ricciardo's love for F1

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Daniel Ricciardo admits the near four-month delay in starting the 2020 season reiterated his love for Formula 1.

Last March, just as Covid-19 cases were growing globally, F1 was forced to cancel the opening race in Australia on Friday morning after a McLaren employee tested positive for the virus.

In the days and weeks after, a total of 10 Grands Prix would be cancelled or postponed, including the famous Monaco GP for the first time since 1954.

Eventually, new health guidelines were drawn up and the championship was able to begin in July, the latest any season had started in F1's 70-year history.

And though Ricciardo used the chance to stay in Australia during the extended off-season, he admits that period helped him realise how much passion he still has for his job.

“I think for me personally it made me appreciate and understand how much I love the sport and how much I love the competition," he said.

"I think not having it for a few months, as much as I loved being home and getting some rare time at home, I was hungry. I was hungry to go and compete.

“It was reiteration. You have bad days in the sport. One day is frustrating and you’re like ‘I hate race cars’ but the absence confirmed that I certainly love it and want to keep doing it."

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When the season did eventually get underway, with 17 races in just 161 days, Ricciardo enjoyed one of his strongest, claiming two podiums en route to fifth in the Drivers' Championship.

However, while F1 ultimately came back last year, the new McLaren driver admits there were still aspects to everyday life he and everyone miss.

“I think as a person it’s probably what I would say 99 per cent of everyone felt is some real appreciation for normal life or life as you previously had, an appreciation for being able to go out," he added.

“One thing I missed tremendously was concerts, live music. Being in a venue and having - it sounds gross now - but having sweaty people all around you. Just, I guess, the real freedom of travel which is something we are all accustomed to.

“We travel the world and at some point, it feels like a job but it’s a nice freedom that we have. So these are some things that I missed and certainly won’t take for granted in the future."