Daniel Ricciardo continued to struggle with the handling of the McLaren MCL35M during practice at the Monaco GP.
Daniel Ricciardo’s start to the Monaco GP has begun much like any of his other grand prix this year, slowly.
Struggling to get comfortable with the handling and balance characteristics of the McLaren MCL35M, Ricciardo has gotten off to a sluggish start in his new venture with the Woking-based team. This is something he has personally acknowledged, as well as reassuring the media and fans alike he is working to get on top of it.
McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl has also publicly stated that there is no pressure on Ricciardo, with the expectation that it would take some time for the Australian to become comfortable with the car and his new surrounds.
That being said, for a track that he knows, loves and has done well at in the past, Ricciardo just didn’t seem happy in the car during either of the two practice sessions on Thursday. Made even clearer by his ranking way down the timesheets.
Ricciardo set a lap time only good enough for 15th during both sessions. And while the lack of speed in FP1 was put down to reported testing of the MCL35M, the same cannot be attributed to his FP2 performance.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 20, 2021
“Back on the streets! It’s nice to be back here for sure, it’s a good track and I love it,” Ricciardo said. “Despite that, today wasn’t a great day, we’ve got some work to do. We’ve got the evening and all day tomorrow to work it out, but this is why I love Monaco, you get a day off to really get into it, reset, and have a look at where we’re missing out.
“I think by Saturday I’ll be all good and we’ll figure it out, but today it just felt like a little bit of a stalemate at times. We’ve got some work to do, but the sun is shining, and we’ll get back out there on Saturday and have some fun.”
Ricciardo experienced some teething issues during his transition from Red Bull to Renault, particularly in the first year. Prior to an immense comeback in 2020 where he finished fifth in the Drivers’ Championship.
Whether the same can be said for his swap from Renault to McLaren is yet to be seen.
However, while Ricciardo struggled during his first outing with McLaren at Monaco, teammate Lando Norris continued his good form. Finishing seventh in FP1 and sixth in FP2.
“A decent day, I’m happy. I think we made some good progress between the sessions,” Norris said. “It’s very tight, as expected, especially to the guys behind, but we also look not far off the guys ahead. We have a chance to capitalise on mistakes that they might make.
“I feel comfortable in the car but there’s definitely some more to unlock going into Saturday, and into qualifying. So, tomorrow we can spend the day looking over the data to see what improvements we can make for the rest of the weekend.”
While the Ferrari’s have taken an early lead at Monaco, just three tenths of a second separate Lewis Hamilton in third place, to Norris in sixth.
— Formula 1 (@F1) May 20, 2021
With the winner of the Monaco GP usually coming from within the top three starters on the grid, the fight for the World Championship between Hamilton and Max Verstappen could become interesting. Should Ferrari be able to stick it out at the front.