Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Ricciardo unsure how soon he’ll be “nailing a perfect lap” at McLaren

2021 F1 season

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Daniel Ricciardo says he felt more prepared for his debut at McLaren than he did the last time he moved to a new team. But the former Renault driver admitted he isn’t sure when he’ll be fully comfortable in his new car.

Having made his second change of teams in three years, Ricciardo believes he’s in better shape this time.

“It’s hard to really know,” he said. “[From] previous experience with Renault, I remember specifically it was race three that I felt like finally I’d done a decent weekend. I’m not saying I was fully up to speed by race three, but that was like okay, I’d kind of got over that hurdle.”

Ricciardo said he felt “a little more comfortable and prepared” when he made his debut for McLaren, partly as he had fewer distractions in Bahrain compared to his home race.

“I do feel like I’ve started a step in front. But to know when I’ll be nailing a perfect lap, hopefully not too long, but I can’t answer that at the moment, I’m not sure.”

He was full of praise for how well McLaren have prepared him since he joined the team at the beginning of the year.

“I think they’ve worked me pretty hard over the last few months pretty well. They’ve done a pretty outstanding job to get me up to speed and I guess to educate me as much as possible with the team.

“Obviously I’m experienced in sport, but I think trying to really capitalise and maximise the new environment, it takes a lot of effort and time. So I think it will keep improving all the time.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “Ricciardo unsure how soon he’ll be “nailing a perfect lap” at McLaren”

  1. Good to read that McLaren did a good job to work with Ricciardo to try and hit the ground running.

  2. I have an opinion
    12th April 2021, 8:51

    Was it in error that this article was originally filed under “Indy Car”? Or is RaceFans trying to hint something to us before an official announcement?

    1. Just a mix between this article and the one with Montoya labelled under the F1 section I guess.

  3. Well I think from McLarens perspective Ricciardo is a very expensive piece of kit that needs to be as close to 100% from day one as possible. And just like any of part of the car he needs to develop and progress during the season.

    I wonder if asked how many drivers can look back and think of a time they put together a perfect lap. I think most if not all would after some contemplation, will always say they could have cut a 0.001 of a second here or 0.001 of second there no matter how fast they go. I know some fans beg to differ, I remember posting on another sight back in 2018 about Verstappen driving a near perfect race and taking the win.
    Of course I was quickly jumped on by a group of orange fans screaming what do you mean NEAR perfect? :))

    1. McLaren know who they snaffled and I’m sure might have the hope but not the expectation you’ve alluded to.
      I’ve heard ‘extracted maximum’ often from drivers – Alonso springs to mind but many others since – RIC’s will be ‘I can’t do much better than that’.

    2. @johnrkh

      I wonder if asked how many drivers can look back and think of a time they put together a perfect lap.

      Just last Hungary Hamilton announced his lap was ‘absolute perfection’ https://www.racefans.net/2020/07/18/hamilton-beating-bottas-to-pole-required-absolute-perfection/ when he beat Bottas by 0.1s

      1. @balue Here I’ll just put that back into context for you :)

        I think most if not all would after some contemplation, will always say they could have cut a 0.001 of a second here or 0.001 of second there no matter how fast they go.

        1. @johnrkh Let me repeat that for you: “absolute perfection”

    3. @johnrkh I’m not sure DR is meaning it that specifically, and he might be just generally speaking to when he might be comfortable enough in the car for something such as a ‘perfect lap’ knowing that drivers often say that even a perfect lap has small areas when they likely could have done a tad better. I doubt DR is obsessing over getting a perfect lap (not saying you’re saying he is either) and I’m sure he is however obsessing over just getting that comfortable with the car that such a thing as a perfect lap might be possible.

  4. Never, because the perfect lap is a myth, it can always be better.
    But he will be up to speed and pushing the car to its limits in no time.

    Reply moderated
  5. It’s interesting how this year several drives are talking about the need of time to get used to their cars. I don’t remember such comments being this common previously.

    1. Probably because it’s no longer commercially acceptable to blame it on the inferior car.

    2. Lot more testing before the season start?
      Direct in person contact with team rather than Zoom meeting?

    3. As others have noted, the pre-season tests were unusually short this year – out of the drivers who’d either not raced in 2020 or changed teams between 2020 and 2021, Mazepin did 213 laps, Alonso 206, Sainz 192, Tsunoda 185, Mick 181, Ricciardo 173, Perez 166 and Vettel just 117 laps. That means that Vettel, with the least laps, covered about 633km, whilst Mazepin was highest with 1153km: the mean distance across all of those drivers is about 970km of testing mileage.

      If you compare that to 2020, the least distance that any full time driver covered in the 2020 pre-season tests was Magnussen, at 1,164km, whilst Latifi, the one rookie that year, covered 1,596km. Most drivers in 2020 covered between 1,600km and 2,000km, and the mean distance across the entire field was about 1,776km.

      It means that the average driver in 2021 is about 50% down on the normal amount of mileage that they would have normally built up in pre-season testing, and it also means that the drivers didn’t necessarily get a decent amount of running on each of the tyre compounds either.

      On top of that, Bahrain is also not the best choice of circuit for testing given the relatively high rear tyre wear that teams experience. It means that most teams have to run with a handling balance that is set to understeer much more than you would normally choose at other circuits to compensate for the change in balance over the stint, and the layout also means you don’t have the same range of corners at other circuits.

    4. J_Olivier I don’t think it is uncommon at all to hear of drivers new to teams and their cars, and they new to these drivers, needing time to gel. The way I think of it and always have is that we should want it to take time for drivers new to teams, if F1 is to be the pinnacle and to be hard. If drivers could just sit in a strange car and immediately be right up to snuff that to me would mean F1 is too easy. They should need to have to adjust to a different car that feels different, and how a team operates, and there should be that time for teams to gather data on setups and such that a driver prefers in their specific car. As I say, if things didn’t need to take this amount of time (e.g. SP saying he’d need 5 races) then to me F1 would be way easier than we should want it to be. It should be a series that separates the men from the boys, and I think especially starting next year that should be even more the case as it becomes a more driver vs driver series.

  6. The McLaren looks larger at the back than many of their competitors or is it just the color?

    1. I think it’s the tiny sidepods

      Reply moderated
    2. due to internal elements being moved higher in the chassis, allowing for a deeper undercut of the sidepod.

      Reply moderated
    3. I think it’s the angle of the image, though having limited changes allowed to get the Mercedes power unit in there – they can be forgiven for a less than perfect shrink-wrap effort.

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