“We understood very quickly what the issue was”– McLaren drop insights into what is causing problems for Daniel Ricciardo.
McLaren had been fancying hiring Daniel Ricciardo ever since he made up his mind leaving Red Bull, and two years later, their wish came true. A promising alliance was visualized and much was expected from the Australian in 2021.
However, things didn’t turn out the way they were expected to be, and Ricciardo struggles with the MCL35M, and could only manage 50 points from 11 races, while his teammate Lando Norris is riding high with a tally of 113 points.
Now, after deep analysis, McLaren’s executive director Andrea Stella has offered the most detailed explanation that why Ricciardo is struggling to deliver performances for the Woking-based team.
“He came to McLaren, in terms of driving characteristics, I would say from the opposite end,” said Stella. “He is a driver who likes to roll the speed in the corner, not necessarily attack the braking as much as our car requires.
“And I think we understood very quickly what the issue was in terms of exploiting all the speed.”
It roots from the winter testing
Even Ricciardo has explained that his driving style is highly different from McLaren’s strengths and Stella asserts that it is about practice that will help the 32-year-old adapt to the car.
“The progress that we do see race after race is not necessarily, in Formula 1, like a switch from race to race,” he said of the 32-year-old’s efforts. Sometimes I make the example of a musician.
“You know, a musician, you can tell him how to play the guitar, you can use a lot of theory, but at some stage, you will have to spend quite a lot of time with a guitar and make quite a lot of exercise.
“And you don’t necessarily take a step in concerts. Most of the progress you make it when you work in the background at home, and you spent hours and hours exercising. In current Formula 1, it is not easy to exercise, winter testing was to a minimum in 2021.”
“Free practice sessions on Friday, you have one hour less to practice, and still it’s a practice in preparation for a race – it’s not a practice in which you can do some systematic work of adapting to a car, understanding of the subtleties that are required to operate at the incredibly high level at which Formula 1 drivers operate nowadays.
“I have to say, I’ve gone in this business for some time, the level of drivers now is very high. The number of drivers that can drive at a very high level is considerable compared to what I’ve seen previously.”
We do see progress, step-by-step, and we also see the rest of Daniel, which is very complete,” he explained. “The key bit we need to have at the moment is that little bit of speed, but like the starts, understanding of the racing.”
“The way he’s been so precise in keeping some quicker cars behind him, like if we think about the [British Grand Prix] with Carlos [Sainz], the understanding of the car – pretty much straightaway, he got the understanding of the features of the car, in winter testing.”
“So this race craft is very strong. Then there is the attitude, the attitude is very positive, it’s exactly what we see, and what you know about Daniel, which means even when we are not achieving the speed that we would like, the spirit is strong, the motivation is very high, and somehow we keep enjoying the journey.”
“Not necessarily, again in my experience, a driver who cannot find the final tenth of a second keeps being an enjoyable driver to work with for the whole team. This is the case with Daniel, so I’m very optimistic for the future.”