Ricciardo excited to return to ‘fairly basic’ Paul Ricard
By Mat Coch
Wednesday 16th June, 2021 - 12:24pm
After two street circuits on the bounce, Daniel Ricciardo is looking forward to a more straightforward layout.
Paul Ricard this weekend hosts to the sixth round of the 2021 Formula 1 season, a markedly different style of track to that seen in Monaco and Azerbaijan.
The French circuit has expansive tarmac run-off areas which do little to penalise drivers’ mistakes.
After the intensity of the two most recent events, that change, and the fact it’s the first of three race weekends on the trot, is welcomed by Ricciardo.
“To be challenged at a circuit like [Baku] is good, but I think going now to – I can’t believe I’m going to say this – but like, [I’m] kind of excited to go to Le Castellet (Paul Ricard) and just get a fairly basic track to maybe get away with a few more mistakes.
“The kind of familiarity of that and then I guess a double-header in Austria will hopefully make this kind of learning phase a bit easier.”
Ricciardo has been working hard to familiarise himself with his new McLaren.
It’s a car which requires a very specific driving style, not one the Australian has found natural.
Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix he spent time in McLaren’s simulator in an attempt to better come to grips with the nuances of his new machine.
That was productive, he claims, and with the prospect of serious track time over the coming weeks he hopes it all begins to drop into place.
“It is what it is,” he said of his current plight driving the tricky MCL35M.
“It’s obviously on a knife-edge and just trying to get the most out of it.
“But I still do standby like the productivity we’ve had the last [weeks], and unfortunately, I can’t show it on the scorecard, but it has been a work well done so far.”
Formula 1 was originally slated to visit France next weekend following a trip, originally, to Canada the week after the Azerbaijan race.
That event was then moved to Turkey before being cancelled altogether and the calendar reshuffled.
As a result, the French Grand Prix was moved forward a week with a second event in Austria, the Styrian Grand Prix, slotted in effectively to replace Canada.
“When you’re trying to learn any sport, the best way to learn is practice and doing it,” Ricciardo said.
“That’s the unique thing with our sport; we can’t do it every day, we can’t just go out tomorrow and go and run a few laps.
“So I think having three consecutive weekends and putting in the practice consecutively will fast-track my progress,” he added.
“We’ve got the simulator and these things help but, in the simulator, the walls don’t hurt so it’s never quite the same.”
The French Grand Prix gets underway on Friday, with Free Practice 1 starting at 19:30 AEST.