Daniel Ricciardo believes he is making clear progress at McLaren, but that is yet to show in his lap times.
Throughout the grid, drivers who had switched teams for 2021 struggled in the early rounds largely thanks to a heavily shortened three-day pre-season test.
But while the likes of Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel and the returning Fernando Alonso are all now starting to hit form, the same can not be said for Ricciardo over at McLaren.
His team-mate Lando Norris has demonstrated the pace that lies within the MCL35M by finishing in the points at every round so far in 2021, including three podium finishes, while also contending for pole on several occasions.
Ricciardo though, has rarely come close to showing that sort of pace. Most recently at the Austrian Grand Prix he failed to qualify in the top 10, while Norris made the front row of the grid.
The Aussie did feel definite progress between the Styrian and Austrian GPs, both held at the Red Bull Ring, but the timing screens did not back him up.
“I wouldn’t say it’s like a recurring issue now,” Ricciardo said of his struggles at the Austrian GP, as quoted by GPFans.
“I feel we’ve made progress in some areas, so if I didn’t look at the classification [for the Austrian GP] I would say I had a better weekend but unfortunately it’s not translating on the stopwatch.
“It was definitely different to the previous weekend [Styrian GP] as far as I think we’ve actually made some good steps but unfortunately the lap time shows the same result, I mean relatively.
“There’s obviously still work to do, but that’s where it is at the moment.”
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Ricciardo’s issues are made even more confusing by the fact that he now feels comfortable in the McLaren, but for some reason good laps still puts him on average well short of Norris’ efforts.
“It’s certainly something I’m just going to keep working at,” Ricciardo admitted.
“I definitely do feel more comfortable in the car now. It’s not race two, race three, where I know there is more to come naturally from seat time.
“I do feel, especially now, I’ve had enough time in the car consistently in the last few weeks to be at a level of comfort with it.
“There is obviously still something missing and we’ll just have to dig a bit deeper for that.
“But in a way, weirdly enough, I feel okay. I feel alright in the car so it’s just about keeping on trying to search for where that lap time is because it’s not a tenth [of a second], we’re still talking big margins.
“So that will require a bit more analysis.”
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