Daniel Ricciardo, will always have his Monza victory as consolation during a tough first season with McLaren, whilst still unable to get his car, the MCL35M, working well.
Ricciardo’s struggles this season have been well documented, as he still seems unable to to master the car McLaren have put at his disposal for their first Formula 1 season together, despite giving the team their first win at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, their first since Jenson Button’s 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix victory.
The 2021 Qatar Grand Prix was another painful experience for the Australian, struggling for pace compared to his teammate Lando Norris, qualifying 14th compared to Norris’ sixth, and failing to score points on Sunday’s Grand Prix at the Losail International Circuit.
Struggles with certain corner types around certain tracks
Ricciardo maintains that his struggles are specific to certain corner types at certain circuits, where his McLaren requires specific driver input to go fast, something he is yet to execute properly.
“Ultimately these kinds of long and medium-speed corners are where our car is challenged the most,” he revealed, speaking to Motorsportweek.
“That is where the McLaren style is the one and only style to get it through those corners quickly.
“I think that is where Lando is definitely doing a better job in those corners,” Ricciardo pointed out. “I am still not quite nailing it. It is the way you enter the corner and combine the brake with the turn in.
“I’m trying to get the car to do something and it still turns but it does not get through the corner as quick,” the 32-year-old admitted.
“It is just half a tenth but half a tenth in these long corners add up to three or four tenths. So it is really just that.”
Not only the car, it’s me as well
The Aussie should be commended for being candid, and owning up to his shortcomings as he said: “It is definitely a weakness of the car, but ultimately still the weakness of me not being able to get the car working well in limited areas.”
The Honey Badger has a solid benchmark in his young teammate Lando Norris, who has outshone him over the course of the season, while also outscoring him by 48 points.
“I can see the difference in the driving, and why I am running into some of these problems,” Ricciardo went on.
“If it was easy, I would’ve perfected it already,” he explained. “I think Lando is driving very well. Any questions about him he has proved to everyone this year that he is top-level.
“But also having the three years with the same car has helped him dial that in,” the nine-time winner insisted.
“I definitely think I’ve improved my style from the beginning of the year,” Ricciardo declared. “But there’s clearly yet another step to make in and some of the sorts of tracks where he is more on top of it than I am.”
Ricciardo (eighth in the Drivers’ Standings), along with his teammate, Norris (fifth), have not been able to deliver their team’s target of finishing third in the Constructors’ Championship yet, and with the 39.5-point-gap Ferrari currently holds over the Woking outfit being, most probably, too big to overcome with two races remaining.