RACE DEBRIEF

    Daniel Ricciardo may not yet be 100% at ease in his new McLaren MCL35M, but according to the Australian he's been pleased to find that he’s already a lot more comfortable with his new ride than he was the last time he made a team switch back in 2019...

    Ricciardo came home a slightly disappointed P7 at the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix, having failed to match the race pace of new team mate Lando Norris, who finished fourth after Ricciardo had outqualified him the day before – with later analysis from McLaren revealing that Ricciardo had been hobbled by floor damage from contact with Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri

    READ MORE: McLaren reveal floor damage from Lap 4 contact with Gasly slowed Ricciardo in Bahrain

    Despite that setback, however, Ricciardo said he'd been encouraged by the early signs at McLaren, while appearing to suggest ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that he was already feeling more confident with the MCL35M than the last time he'd switched teams, from Red Bull to Renault, back in 2019.

    “I completely expected it to take a few races to feel comfortable in the car, but I’m feeling better after race one than I have done at the same point in previous years, so that’s really promising,” said Ricciardo.

    2021BahrainGrandPrixSundayGP2101_151903_ONZ4402.jpg
    Floor damage prevented Ricciardo lapping at Norris' pace in the Bahrain Grand Prix

    “I was a bit unfortunate with the damage we found on the car after the race, and there’s still a few more things to learn and get to grips with, which takes a bit of time. But given that, I’m confident we’ve got a lot more performance left to unlock. We’ve been working hard back at the factory to understand how we can build on that solid start.

    “Imola’s up next and we’re going to give it plenty.”

    READ MORE: Ferrari in the fight with McLaren heading to Imola, say Sainz and Leclerc

    Speaking of Imola, Ricciardo will be cheered by his memories of last year’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the iconic Italian track, where he secured his second podium of the season for Renault after a storming drive to P3 – with Ricciardo planning to use that experience from 2020 to help McLaren cement their current third place in the constructors’ championship.

    “I’m really excited to be heading back [to Imola] after last year’s race where I finished on the podium,” said Ricciardo. “It’s an iconic old-school track with a fast and flowing layout that provides little room for error [and] I’m definitely planning on bringing that experience from last year to help the team this weekend and fight for those points.”

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