Ricciardo has 'missed racing more than ever' during F1's forced hiatus

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Daniel Ricciardo admits he's now as passionate as he ever has been about racing as he prepares to return from Formula 1's extended break.

The 2020 season finally commences next month with eight races in 10 weeks already confirmed, starting with a triple-header consisting of two rounds in Austria followed by a trip to Hungary.

It will bring to an end what has been F1's third-longest gap between races in its 70-year history caused by the coronavirus at just over seven months.

And having spent all of it on his farm in Perth, Ricciardo says the downtime, while welcome, has only boosted his motivation.

“If anything it’s more fuel to the fire, it was nice to have some alone time, time to think and process," he said during an Instagram Live interview with Will Buxton.

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“It’s certainly fuelled my desire more. I’ve missed racing more than ever, missed competing, missed the limelight, all the stuff that goes with it. I’ve missed it all.

“Not that I’ve lost love for it at all. It’s just reiterated my love for competing in the sport and my job.

“We travel so much and you go, and you go, and you go, but sometimes you don’t really get a chance to stop, and it was, in a way, nice to be forced to stop for our bodies, not being in pressurised cabins all the time and all of that kind of stuff.

“From a performance point of view, it’s maybe given me a couple more years on to my career, so I see positives in it.”

Of course, it has also seen Ricciardo make the decision to leave Renault at the end of 2020 to join McLaren, replacing the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz.

In the meantime though, the seven-time F1 winner's focus is on the French manufacturer, and he will hit the track in Austria on Tuesday, as Renault complete a two-day test with their 2018 car at the Red Bull Ring to get accustomed to the new measures being introduced to limit the risk from Covid-19.