Daniel Ricciardo felt his improved showing in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix represented a “really good step” in his harmony level with the MCL36.
The Australian has struggled ever since joining McLaren at the start of 2021, apart from a glorious Italian Grand Prix victory last September.
Put in the shade by his team-mate Lando Norris for the most part, Ricciardo this season has scored only 15 points to the Briton’s 50.
But he did cut the gap slightly in Baku, finishing just 0.349sec ahead of Norris as they came home eighth and ninth – albeit with team orders issued at the end to pay back Ricciardo for having held station earlier in the race.
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The 32-year-old from Perth admits he is still not where he wants to be with the car, but saw his Azerbaijan display as a breakthrough having also started on the same row of the grid as Norris.
“Every little bit obviously helps at the moment,” Ricciardo told Sky F1. “I think there are still parts where I know I’m not perfect yet with this car, but I think we made a really good step this weekend.
“And also just understanding even more clear, like kind of the direction of set-up and things to help me kind of get the feeling I’ve been craving.
“That’s been positive, and obviously qualifying I was able to get a bit closer [to Norris]. Obviously close is not good enough. It’s not what I’m ultimately striving for, but the way we were two weeks ago I’m certainly happy with the weekend as a whole.”
Speculation has increased of late about Ricciardo’s future at McLaren, but he said no stone was being left unturned within the team in the quest to try and improve his fortunes.
“Obviously I’ve struggled to adapt fully to this car in the last 18 months,” said the former Red Bull and Renault driver.
“We are obviously trying to maybe do things to bring it more in my favour, see if that works.
“We are trying everything. I’m obviously getting the full support of the team and my engineers, we are working hard and I think we did make a good step this weekend.”
Ricciardo now takes part in his first Canadian Grand Prix as a McLaren driver, returning to the scene of his maiden F1 victory in 2014 at a Montreal venue that has been omitted from the calendar for the past two years because of the pandemic.