Daniel Ricciardo says he’s been worked hard by McLaren in his first months with the team, but that it’ll also be hard to tell when he is fully up to speed in his MCL35M.
The 31-year-old says he wants to mount a title challenge as early as the 2022 season with his new team, hoping for “s*** to hit the fan in a good way” when the new sport’s technical regulations are introduced.
After out-qualifying team-mate Lando Norris in the season opener in Bahrain, McLaren confirmed that floor damage had limited the Australian’s performance in the race, with Norris landing a P4 finish with Ricciardo coming home in P7.
After a positive first weekend in the team, Ricciardo says he aims to get fully up to pace soon – but he hasn’t pinpointed a time where that might happen.
“It’s hard to really know,” he said to RaceFans.net. “[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.”
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) April 12, 2021
With the season starting in Bahrain instead of a home outing at Albert Park in Melbourne, Ricciardo added that he felt “a little more comfortable and prepared” in his first race as a McLaren driver in comparison to his Renault days.
“I do feel like I’ve started a step in front,” he revealed.
“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.”
A change of team is a process that will naturally take a bit of time to adjust to, but coupled with a shortened gap between the 2020 season and the new 2021 calendar, Ricciardo is pleased with the progress he has been able to make in a short space of time at McLaren.
He added: “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.”