Ricciardo reveals his biggest McLaren challenge

Daniel Ricciardo

The feeling of the McLaren MCL35M under brakes is one of the biggest differences for Daniel Ricciardo heading into the 2021 season.

Following his switch from Renault (now Alpine) to McLaren over the European winter, the Australian completed three half-days of running at the Bahrain International Circuit during pre-season testing.

Brakes were a key talking point when he switched from Red Bull to Renault in 2019, with Ricciardo admitting he again doesn’t yet have the feel on the brakes he’d like.

“It is certainly different again,” he said of the feeling in the McLaren.

“So, I am still probably adapting, or adjusting to that.

“I think going now from Red Bull to Renault, and Renault to McLaren, probably the braking is maybe the biggest thing which seems like you need to adapt,” he added.

“I think that’s one as well where I’m still trying to get on top of it and understand where the limit is of the car.

“I think generally, even the past couple of years, they’ve [McLaren] had a pretty good car on braking.

“So I think that will be, once I’m up to speed, should be a pretty good one and hopefully see some good passes from me again – some late ones!”

Asked about the specifics of what he needed to understand, the 31-year-old admitted it was a combination of factors.

“With the braking, it’s probably more just a mechanical feeling. I think even things like new car, new pedals and positioning,” he explained.

“It’s probably more just the feel on that physically than anything else for now.”

Ricciardo’s comments came as he admitted he wasn’t yet fully up to speed with his new car.

“You never want to admit that you’re not driving to the limit or anything, but I think the reality is it does take a little time to, let’s say, execute at 100 percent,” he admitted during pre-season testing.

“I’m certainly getting close, but am I truly at one with the car yet? Not yet.”

While not fully comfortable behind the wheel, the seven-time grand prix winner suggests he is up to speed with the team’s operational and strategic processes.

“For a race weekend, dialling in to strategic stuff with the team and kind of going through a race simulation, I’m pretty comfortable.

“I think it’s really just me getting comfortable within myself and with the car.

“It naturally takes a bit of time, but I don’t really want to give myself the time!”

The 2021 Formula 1 season gets underway with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 26-28.

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