Daniel Ricciardo is gaining ‘confidence’ with the McLaren MCL35M, after coming away with the second fast time in FP2 at the Styrian GP.
After a topsy-turvy start to the beginning of his new venture with McLaren, Daniel Ricciardo looks to have found some of his mojo. After securing the second fast time in Free Practice 2 at the Styrian GP, behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.
Off to a somewhat slow start during Free Practice 1, as has often been the case for the McLaren team in 2021. Both Ricciardo and teammate Lando Norris projected up the timesheets, with Norris coming in at a respectable seventh.
Coming off his most successful outing with McLaren at last weekend’s French GP, Ricciardo looked more comfortable and ‘at one’ with the car. To use a phrase that has been making the rounds during this year’s Formula 1 season.
“I think it was a productive Friday for sure,” Ricciardo said. “In the morning we were a little off the pace. We made a few adjustments for the afternoon and I think that was better. Obviously, the time sheets certainly show it was better.
“We made a step in feeling and confidence in the car, but I do feel there’s another step we need to make to stay in a strong position for tomorrow. A bit of fine-tuning tonight but otherwise we should be pretty good. I’m happy with the day and we’ll go from there.”
Max Verstappen lands P1 for the second time on Friday
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The return to more traditional racing tracks after two consecutive race meets at street circuits looks to have done Ricciardo well. With more freedom to push the car and less consequences for mistakes.
But while that may be the case, Ricciardo will have to ensure he keeps pushing that new found confidence if he wants to find himself in with a chance of competing for a podium position. Rather than having to fight his way through the pack into the top ten.
While the weather for the race remains an unknown around this time of year, with rain predicted for practice but failing to deliver. One key element that is in control of the teams is the all-important tyre selection and management. Something McLaren Team Principal Andreas Seidl touched on.
“It’s been a productive Friday,” Seidl said. “Despite there being rain around, it didn’t affect the programme and we could go through our run plan. That revolved around set-up work, some aerodynamic tests and, of course, understanding the tyres in preparation for the race – we saw in France what a difference tyre degradation can make.
“Overall, the car seemed reasonably competitive. We’ll keep an eye on the weather – which remains unsettled – but we’re looking forward to qualifying and the race.”
McLaren are in a strong position to score some serious points in the Constructors’ Championship during back-to-back races in Austria. All of which will be needed in order to stay ahead of their Ferrari rivals.
With Ricciardo’s new found confidence, and Norris’ impressive race record at the track, strap yourselves in for what should be an exciting two weeks of racing.