Ricciardo buoyed by ‘productive’ simulator session

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo’s time in the McLaren simulator in the lead up to the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix proved “productive”.

Looking to bounce back from a tough Monaco Grand Prix in which he could manage no better than 12th, Ricciardo spent time at the McLaren Technology Centre.

There, he worked to further come to grips with the McLaren MCL35M which has propelled Lando Norris to two podium results this season.

“I did spend a good few days on the sim last week,” Ricciardo explained.

“It was really just trying to take a step back and understand what’s going on and how the car works and what needs to be done to get the car working well.”

The simulators used by Formula 1 teams are largely bespoke, and are a crucial component when it comes to car development.

On a race weekend, teams often charge a test or development driver with setup refinement work following the first day of practice, with that data then being used in the real world the following day.

For Ricciardo’s purposes, however, it offered an opportunity to experiment.

“In a way, I don’t want to say started from zero because I’ve definitely learned a bit the first few races, but just even have an open-minded whatever approach,” he said of the session.

“We just tried lots of different things and even things that don’t feel correct – we’d try them and then understand, okay, why that doesn’t work, and so just played around a lot.

“Certainly some things now do seem more clear to me, and I think it was really productive to do that.

“I’m just looking forward to putting that in play now on track.”

Ricciardo has previously won around the streets of Baku, while driving for Red Bull in 2017.

It’s a venue that, on paper, appears to play to the strengths of the McLaren, which has proved to be one of the quickest cars in a straight line thus far in 2021.

Norris’ performance in Monaco, and the lap time set by Ricciardo during the race, also suggest the MCL35M’s low speed performance is also solid.

“This circuit is, it’s a fun one,” he said.

“Monaco is Monaco, but I think Baku, it’s just as tricky and it’s very different.

“We run less downforce because of the straights, so in a way the cornering is maybe even more difficult here.

“But you do have a bit more time and space to think about the next corner and gather your thoughts and have a breather.

“It’s kind of a different tempo, but still the same intensity.

“When a weekend doesn’t go well you can’t wait to get back in the car to try and obviously do better, so I’m just looking forward to going racing again.”

Free Practice 1 for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix begins this evening at 18:30 AEST.

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