Struggling to find his groove, Daniel Ricciardo may have to adopt a ‘special driving style’ in order to wrangle the MCL35M.
Daniel Ricciardo is yet to find his feet at McLaren during the 2021 Formula 1 season. After what appeared to be an on track improvement at the Spanish Grand Prix, Ricciardo came crashing back down at the recent Monaco Grand Prix.
Seemingly fighting with setup and balance issues throughout practice, Ricciardo was out in Q2, managing only 12th. An uneventful race for the Australian would follow, going on to finish 12th, after being lapped by teammate Lando Norris.
At a circuit where he has enjoyed success in the past, Ricciardo’s true struggles with the MCL35M came to light. Outshone by the younger and less experienced Norris for another week, where does the cause lie for Ricciardo’s lack of pace?
According to McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl, the likely problem looks to stem with the unique driving style required to work in harmony with the MCL35M.
“I think if you look back since the beginning of the season, we have made good steps forward with him,” said Seidl. “But in order to drive our car fast at the moment, you need a special driving style which is not natural for Daniel. That’s why it’s not so easy for him to get the laps in and extract the performance.
“We simply have to keep working together now as one team: stay calm, keep analysing, and keep learning.
“And then there are two things, which is him further adapting to our car. Because obviously, he sees that the potential is there, which is I think the positive thing for him to see that, and then we can pull it off.
“Then, at the same time, we will look at the team side as well and what we can do in order to help him on the car side, to give him back his natural feeling which you need to go fast.”
Ricciardo has a proven track record of getting the most out of a car. He has proved that at Red Bull and his previous employer, Renault. While it did take a year for him to get going at Renault, by year two, he would finish with enough points to secure fifth in the Drivers’ Championship.
If what Seidl is saying is in fact true, which appears to be the logical option. Given the immense enjoyment Norris is relishing in. That it may only be a matter of time until Ricciardo is up and running.
Having to change and adapt your driving style is no easy feat for the majority of drivers. Having the challenge of learning a completely new car prior to 2022, where the new regulations come into effect, also doesn’t help Ricciardo’s situation. In what will see him basically race three different cars in three years.