Ricciardo led home Lando Norris for a McLaren one-two at Monza
It marked Ricciardo’s first win since the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix with the 32-year-old admitting he has struggled at times in 2021.
“It’s been the most challenging year I’ve had in a long time,” Ricciardo explained to Sky Sports F1.
“But it’s also made me understand more about myself as a person, and as a competitor. How much it still means to me, how much I want it.
“To be the guy that gets the first win for the team in nine years is pretty special.”
Ricciardo took his opportunity after a chaotic race in Lombardy.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen crashed into title rival Lewis Hamilton, of Mercedes, eliminating both from the race.
The Dutchman has been given a three-place grid penalty for the Russian Grand Prix next weekend.
Ricciardo credited time spent in the United States on a friend’s cattle ranch with resetting his focus after a year of challenges and helping him to a famous victory for McLaren.
“You can easily get lost,” Ricciardo revealed.
"Jy weet, deep down I would have moments of frustration or moments of, ja, dropping my head, but I kind of made a point never to let that last. I also made a point to try and gain something from it and learn from it.
“For a moment you fall out of love with the sport but actually the clarity you get afterwards it kind of makes you realise how much you do love it and how much you want it. I would back myself to the hilt.”