Daniel Ricciardo has revealed the Covid-19 restrictions McLaren has maintained this year have made it more difficult to build the camaraderie needed to ease the stresses of a long F1 season.
Ricciardo, who has previously spoken about the challenges of mental health and depression, believes the lack of social mixing this year has been hard on him and others at the track.
“It’s really important to have close relationships with other members of the team,” he said. “I really hope next year the world keeps opening up and we can interact more with the team.
“That’s not just at the track but do some events, do some dinners, and having that social life outside the paddock on a race weekend that helps to break up the weekend as well. That’s an important time to switch off.
“[When you are] away from families for long periods of time, especially the triple headers, you need to rely on your team-mates to help you out if you are a little down or missing home or whatever it is.”
Ricciardo - race team is my family away from home
Ricciardo, whose parents and sister still live in Australia, revealed following his victory in September’s Italian Grand Prix that he has not seen his family for more than a year due to Covid-19 restrictions.
His parents had been regular visitors to the paddock over his years in the sport and he conceded that quickly building close bonds with people at his new team has played an important part in getting him more comfortable.
“I know how much I miss home and family, so having some close members in the team to fill the void is really important,” he said.
“I do miss these team dinners and things that we can do, obviously it’s harder with Covid-19, but I do miss that.
“I think just getting to know the people you travel the world with as well, that’s also important.
"It’s cool and nice to know, we all have F1 as an interest but what makes us tick, what gets us out of bed when we are not on a race weekend, building these relationships is not only fun and enjoyable but it’s important.”