Daniel Ricciardo: It’s been a ‘difficult season’ with McLaren so far

Daniel Ricciardo: It’s been a ‘difficult season’ with McLaren so far

Daniel Ricciardo has acknowledged his Formula 1 move to McLaren has been more difficult than expected.

Both Daniel Ricciardo and McLaren had high hopes for what the pairing could achieve heading into the 2021 Formula 1 season. A proven grand prix winner teaming up with a former F1 World Championship winning team back on the rise. You couldn’t really ask for a better combination.

However, 2021 hasn’t gone to plan for the Australian driver. While younger teammate Lando Norris continues to enjoy his best season in F1 so far. Already landing on the podium three times this year. Ricciardo is struggling to even make it through to Q3, with a significant lack of pace during qualifying compared to Norris.

While he has enjoyed brief periods where he looked like the Ricciardo of old, for the most part, the difficulties in taming the MCL35M have led to him fighting with drivers further down the pecking order in an attempt to scrape into the points.

The adaptation from Renault to McLaren is also taking longer than expected. Balance, braking and setup problems seem to be the key issues Ricciardo is struggling to get under control.

Talking to Motorsport.com after the Austrian Grand Prix, Ricciardo mentioned his performance this year was unexpected, as well as the fact that he just had to accept that Norris was driving really well.

“I feel like it’s obviously for whatever reason been a very unexpected and difficult season so far, just from a pace point of view,” Ricciardo said. “And I guess the easiest way for me to kind of move forward is to accept that.

“Did I expect more? Absolutely. But I think if I every weekend go into it now expecting to be quicker than Lando, or whatever it is, I’m probably just going to end up resenting the sport, because clearly it’s going to take a bit more. Clearly there’s something that is missing. I feel good in the car, especially the last three weeks, it’s felt better.

“I don’t want to say, what’s the word, wave the white flag, or succumb to whatever it is, I’m just going to not really focus or lose too much energy on that, and just accept that he’s driving very well. The aim is to obviously get closer, and help the team out as well.”

This far into the 2021 F1 season, McLaren would like to be seeing more performance out of their new driver signing. The team have been fairly supportive of Ricciardo thus far, stating on multiple occasions they knew it would take time for him to adjust to a new car. In light that it takes a ‘special driving style’ to get results out of the MCL35M.

But, while that may have been the case earlier in the season, questions are surely being asked behind closed doors as to a likely timeframe of when McLaren can expect the performance from Ricciardo that they know he is capable of.

McLaren know the MCL35M is a strong car. If it wasn’t, Norris wouldn’t be enjoying the success that he is. It will ultimately come down to whether or not Ricciardo is able to harness that same success, as he continues to tweak his own driving style to better suit his new ride.