Daniel Ricciardo sent a strong statement to his critics with his performance at the British GP. After a difficult start to his first season with McLaren, the Australian driver seems to have found his rhythm. Was this a one-off performance or is he progressively improving.
The former Red Bull and Renault man definitely knows what it takes to win races. However, he is still far from his best with his new team. His trademark style of braking late and crazy overtakes means the car he drives needs to suit his style.
The MCL35M is not suited to slower corners, requiring a distinctive style on braking and turn-in to achieve the required rotation. So while the Red Bull Ring in Austria was not the best for the car, Silverstone made his work easier. Which is probably why he did not want to get carried away by the performance.
“It’s still definitely at times frustrating,” he said speaking to motorsport.com. “But I’m probably past the point of being frustrated, I think now it’s kind of a reality that I’m still needing to find some more and just be at one with the car. That’s probably the best way to put it.
“So I guess it’s not anything new for me now. I know and I’m aware that it’s probably still gonna be a process. I didn’t panic at the beginning, but I was aware that I was losing ground, and I was just trying to understand where am I losing and what is it that I need to help me get you know those three or fourth tenths a lap more.”
Ricciardo still figuring out the car
Ricciardo was also a bit surprised by his qualifying pace, something he usually struggles with. He managed to qualify in 6th and was just 0.002 seconds behind his teammate Lando Norris. And he was consistent throughout the weekend finishing 6th in the sprint race and 5th in the main race.
“It’s strange because you’d think on one lap is maybe where I’d lack more, where you’re really pushing the car on the limit and maybe the race when everything settles down, I’d have a bit more,” said Ricciardo.
“But we’ve kind of seen the opposite this weekend. In the race, when the car is a bit lower on fuel and starts to move around a little bit more, that’s where I’ve still got to dial it in.
A McLaren connection
Ricciardo acknowledged the role of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in his race performance. They battled for almost 20 laps but the former McLaren driver could not overtake at all. You could make a case that the Ferrari lacked pace, but further ahead, teammate Charles was able to run away from the pack.
“I think having Carlos actually at the end, or for most of the race, on me, and putting the pressure on me, kind of forced me in a way to overdrive some corners.
“And I think it allowed me to feel a little more where that edge is. That’s definitely an encouraging thing. I know in clear air Carlos was definitely quicker, but to get a top-five when I’m still like this, it is encouraging.”
There were plenty of positives for Ricciardo to look back to. But the team still expects a lot more from him. While Lando’s form this year has been phenomenal, already scoring 113 points, Ricciardo has scored 50.