McLaren have moved car towards Ricciardo’s style

Jamie Woodhouse
Daniel Ricciardo smiling as he sits in the McLaren. Qatar, November 2021.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, smiling as he sits inside the cockpit without his helmet on. Qatar, November 2021.

As Daniel Ricciardo has adjusted his style to suit McLaren, the MCL35M too has been adapted to complement his driving style more.

Ricciardo arrived at McLaren for 2021 in what was one of the most intriguing acquisitions for the season, with Ricciardo providing that race-winning experience to the recovering fallen giants McLaren.

The first-half of the season though did not go as anyone had expected, with Ricciardo struggling to match the performance level of team-mate Lando Norris.

Fortunately there has been a marked improvement over the summer break, as a refreshed Ricciardo continued his adaptation to the MCL35M, one which he admits he has not yet completed.

And McLaren too had their part to play, ironing out their issues to give Ricciardo the best machinery they could.

Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren is wheeled into the garage at the Sao Paulo GP. Interlagos November 2021.
Daniel Ricciardo's McLaren is wheeled into the garage after his retirement from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. Interlagos November 2021.

“Indeed, it was a learning process for us, we get a new driver, a very talented driver, an established driver, and he struggles in some phases of driving the car quickly,” said Andrea Stella, McLaren executive director, as quoted by

“For example Lando, this is the only car he drove, so he doesn’t have many references from other cars.

“So some features, they are simply the way the car behaves in F1. But adding a new driver, a driver that has very clear references, that helped us understand that some of these features actually we needed to improve on our side.

“Some of these features, for example, they have to do with how sharp the car is when it responds to small steering input.

“We know that since the first time in 2017 when we put the wide tyres on the car it was very clear that they were super responsive to small steering input.

“And this can be a good feature, if you have like a 90 degrees quick corner, it’s a good feature. But most of the time that makes the car more difficult to drive. So we understood that there was work to do there. And indeed, we made some adaptations to the car.

“So it’s Daniel moving to the car, but there’s been a bit of the car moving to Daniel, in 2021. Some of the learning we got will essentially as much as possible be translated into next year’s car.

“So indeed, it was a useful process for McLaren. And indeed, there was something about the car that moved towards Daniel.

“There was quite a bit of work in terms of adaptation to the car that needed to be done. And these adaptations, they do take a lot of time, because the cars are going quick. You can’t drive and think in modern F1, at least since the regulations changed in 2017.

“That’s why it took time, and I think reflection over the summer break might have helped this process of making these changes requited, the different style required, more of a natural process.”


But just as Ricciardo feels he is not yet at 100% with the McLaren style, Stella agrees that there is more to come from this partnership.

“If we talk about our expectation and Daniel’s expectation, we think that there is more to come, we still see that there are tracks or situations in which this is not yet as natural as we know it can be. So, [we are] happy with the improvement,” said Stella.

“We understand why the trajectory was slow, we understand why now we are in a better place. But we think there is more to come and we need to obviously put together a lot of work, and just carry on what we’ve been doing in the last month.”

Ricciardo has throughout all the difficulties opened his account for victories in McLaren papaya, leading home at one-two finish for the team at the Italian Grand Prix.


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