Daniel Ricciardo says being outpaced by McLaren teammate Lando Norris in the first two races of 2021 has been “difficult”, but the Aussie is working hard to adapt his driving style to the team’s car.
Ricciardo had mitigating circumstances – a damaged floor – to justify being out-scored by Norris in Bahrain.
But at Imola, his performance left him almost 30 seconds adrift from the Briton at the checkered flag, with Norris scoring in Italy his second career podium in F1.
There’s no denying the seven-time Grand Prix winner’s current deficit to his teammate, and the work he needs to do to match the latter.
“I think it’s been difficult,” he admitted at Portimão on Friday. “Saying that, in Bahrain I out-qualified him. So probably looking at Bahrain, it didn’t look that difficult.
“But then looking at Imola, I wasn’t as quick in quali or the race. I don’t know if it’s that or [because] this car is certainly different to drive. Probably even more so than the Renault when I jumped in that.
“It’s probably just more like my technique needs to adapt a little bit. And I think that technique I’ve been doing for quite a few years so probably getting out of that, that’s a tricky part.”
To help him fast-track his progress and get on top of McLaren’s MCL35M. Ricciardo has spent time in the Woking-based outfit’s simulator, refining his driving technique to better exploit his car’s potential, while the team itself is also trying to accommodate its driver through its development work.
“The car has a tendency to reward a bit of a different technique, a bit of a different style,” he explained.
“That’s from turning in, to the way you use the brake and get back on throttle. It’s a little unique. So I’ve been working on that in the simulator and trying to put that into display here.
“I think that was coming. And I think naturally, we’re just getting more confidence as well with the way the car slides and moves.”
But the Aussie candidly gave credit to Norris and echoed the view of McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl who recently underscored the young gun’s progress and improved maturity.
“Obviously I’ve never been team mates with Lando before but I do think that he’s probably taken another step and driving really well.
“His [qualifying] lap in Imola was really something. I don’t think there was probably anything more out of the car in that scenario.
“So, he obviously feels very comfortable and you can tell he’s willing to push the car on the limit, for sure.”
Read also: Seidl says ‘flying’ Norris has made ‘the next step
Despite the difficult start to his life at McLaren, Ricciardo knows he has time on his side as well as the full support of Seidl and McLaren boss Zak Brown.
“It’s hard to take because I’m a veteran now of the sport and it’s like, why should I need time?” he explained.
“I’m obviously experienced coming into this team and everyone’s kind of treating me like a rookie, but in a way it is true because I’m a rookie with this car and this environment.
“I’m certainly not a rookie, but obviously after Imola, I was upset that I didn’t do better or couldn’t get more.
“But Andreas, Zak, they’re just like: ‘chill, dude, it’s just going to come’. So yeah, I mean, I’m obviously trying not to chill too much, but I’m aware that it’ll come eventually.”
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