Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, French Grand Prix, Lando Norris

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Whisper it quietly, but the Daniel Ricciardo of old is back.

The McLaren driver finally produced a performance that F1 fans had waited to see after disappointing outings in his two previous races.

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A P12 finish in Monaco — Ricciardo’s favourite track — was followed up with P9 in Baku, where he crashed during qualifying.

However, P6 in France put that trademark smile back on Ricciardo’s face, and didn’t he know it.

Speaking to F1 TV after the race, the Australian was asked whether he felt like he was back to his old self, admitting he’s starting to find his mojo again.

“I never left,” Ricciardo said.

“Just moved aside for a little while. It was fun, certainly some old skills coming back, a bit of racing, a bit of talking smack on the radio, elbows out.

“So yeah, starting to get a bit more comfortable in the car, a bit of confidence in racing situations, so it was good fun.”

Despite the strong finish in France — where he was ousted by his McLaren teammate Lando Norris in P5 as well as both Red Bull and Mercedes drivers — the Perth native still feels he hasn’t mastered the MCL35M just yet.

“I still certainly felt pretty big moments in the race I was still like it’s still not quite there,” Ricciardo said.

“Like still fighting it a little more than I’d like.

“In saying that, I think today was a tricky race.

“The others (drivers), particularly in the first stint were suffering more. I was kind of complaining a little bit with the car, but I guess they were complaining more.

“To see them sweat made me very happy.”

With back-to-back races at the Red Bull Ring in Austria coming up, it’s the perfect opportunity for Ricciardo to gain more points for himself and his team.

“There’s still some things to learn from today,” Ricciardo said.

“We started (the weekend) on the front foot and it’s a step in the right direction. I think having two more now in quick succession will be good, keep the rhythm going.”

The French Grand Prix was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who pipped Lewis Hamilton on the penultimate lap and extended his lead atop the drivers’ standings to 12 points ahead of the Brit.

Hamilton’s teammate Valtteri Bottas was left to rue what could have been, venting his frustration to his team as a result of a botched race strategy.

It was a day to forget for Ferrari though. Both Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finished outside the points, with P16 and P11 respectively.

French GP results: Top 10

1) Max Verstappen, Red Bull

2) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

3) Sergio Perez, Red Bull

4) Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes

5) Lando Norris, McLaren

6) Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

7) Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri

8) Fernando Alonso, Alpine

9) Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin

10) Lance Stroll, Aston Martin

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