After a weekend full of mixed emotions at the Portuguese Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo has pinpointed some issues with the McLaren MCL35M that may be holding him back.
Daniel Ricciardo put on an impressive display during Sunday’s Formula 1 race at the Portuguese Grand Prix. After a disastrous qualifying session saw him knocked out in Q1, Ricciardo was relegated towards the back of the grid. Starting at P16, he was always going to have his work cut out for him early on.
But as good F1 drivers so often do, Ricciardo bounced back, pushing past the usual backmarkers to make his way towards the top 10. Brief tussles with the likes of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso and AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly would ultimately see the Australian finish inside the points at P9.
While finishing in the points in all three races of the season, Ricciardo has continued to struggle adjusting to his new car, the McLaren MCL35M. Teammate Lando Norris has enjoyed the luxury of racing in what has been a fairly similar car over the past three years at McLaren. But while it is clear Ricciardo still needs more time to get acquainted, he seems to have pinpointed some issues he believes are holding him back.
“Today [Sunday] was certainly a better day,” Ricciardo said. “I was able to do what I set out to do and overtake some cars, have some battles and get rid of some anger from yesterday. So that was good.
“I think there were moments of the race that were really positive and having got another race distance under me, I feel like I’ve got quite a bit of feedback for the team. I definitely feel some things which are holding me back in terms of what I want to do with the car, and every time I try it, it doesn’t quite hold on.
“So, I think there are some things we can immediately address with the set-up, and then with some updates to come. Overall, I’m pretty optimistic with how the race went.”
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) May 3, 2021
As he continues to get comfortable with the MCL35M, Ricciardo should have the ability, like Norris, to provide accurate feedback on what exactly needs to be adjusted to better suit him. The team obviously have a good car for 2021, in terms of speed and general all-round handling. It’s just going to take Ricciardo that little bit longer.
McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl is well aware of this fact. With his continued support of Ricciardo, and acknowledgement that it is going to take some time for his new driver to get back up to speed.
“Today we saw a great recovery drive,” Seidl said. “Starting from P16, Daniel managed a very good first stint, making up a lot of positions at the start, delaying his pit-stop to gain further places, and then attacking at the end to finish P9, scoring another two important points for himself and for the team in the Constructors’ Championship.”
After Round 3 in the 2021 F1 season, McLaren currently sit third in the constructors’ standings behind Mercedes and Red Bull.