After three race wins and three other podiums last season, Daniel Ricciardo expected to be challenging the Formula One championship in 2015.
Instead, his under-performing Renault-powered Red Bull has him languishing in seventh on the drivers’ standings and digging deep for motivation after just one top-three finish.
“It’s not been easy to be honest,” he told UK’s Autosport.
“I came into this season on a high from last year and I was really ready to fight for the title. Mentally, I was prepared for doing that.”
The 26-year-old said that, even after the first few races in which he finished sixth, 10th and ninth, he still thought `we’ll be right, we’ll get there’.
“Prior to Hungary (last start, where he finished third), it never really got any better, and I definitely had to adjust,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean I’ve had to adjust what I do behind the wheel, but the whole approach.
“Finding the same motivation, knowing you can only get sixth place or something, you’ve just got to make sure you’re still staying focused.
“I’m still obviously very motivated to race, but what’s been highlighted is when you’re racing for victories it’s a lot easier to get motivated.”
Ricciardo conceded he’d let his emotions get the better of him at times during the year in revealing his frustrations about the car in public.
“Sometimes I can get a little bit too emotional, so I’ve got to get back to the basics and just make sure I’m doing everything I’ve got to do,” he added.
“It’s just making sure you’re still focusing on the same things, and if the car’s only good enough for sixth, then I’ve got to make sure I’m at least getting sixth.”
The championship returns from the summer break next weekend with the Belgian Grand Prix, race 11 of 19.