Ricciardo leaves Norris playing catch-up

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo has left his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris playing catch-up following the opening day’s running at the Formula 1 French Grand Prix.

McLaren fitted a notable upgrade packaged to Ricciardo’s car across both sessions, while team-mate Lando Norris was initially used for baseline comparisons in Free Practice 1.

Both cars then had the package in the day’s second session, though it left Norris to suggest he’s at a disadvantage to his Australian colleague as he works to get on top of the changes.

“As soon as something feels just a little bit off, you have to figure out why that’s happening and what it’s doing, what the reasoning is for it, and then how to overcome it and maximise it again,” Norris said when asked for his feedback on the upgrades.

“So it’s nothing like, say, good or bad, it’s just the limitation of the car is just in different places through the corner and therefore you’ve just got to adapt yourself to that.

“So I guess I’m playing a little bit of catch-up and just trying to understand all of that, comparing to Daniel.

“But at the same time, it’s been good, we’ve been able to compare the data easily today because we chose that strategy of me not having it, him having it [in Free Practice 1], and therefore we can look at the data tonight and extract more performance.”

For Ricciardo, exactly what the upgrade package delivered was hard to discern given he had no base for comparison.

“We haven’t driven on this track yet as well with these cars, so the reference isn’t actually – it’s to another track,” Ricciardo said.

“I do feel some differences, but it’s not like a back-to-back test, if you will, so it’s kind of hard to be real specific on where [the car is different] because I’m not sure what the other one’s like.

“We were kind of working through it. I think the afternoon we made a bit of progress, so that was better.”

McLaren’s upgrades are has the most sizeable of any team this weekend, with a new floor and sidepod solution, among others, which is hoped will combine to generate increased downforce.

While unclear of exactly what gains the upgrades have delivered, Ricciardo suggested it’s also clouded the picture in terms of the pecking order, even if he did end both sessions inside the top 10.

“I know where we ended up, so that’s like quali pace – ninth or 10th,” he said.

“But the long runs, I’m not really sure where we stand yet, haven’t had a look at that.

“I think I’m more worried about getting everything sorted from a set-up point of view and trying to understand that better after now having a whole day of running.

“I’m not worried,” he added.

“It’s a new package, I’m not going to say we’ve maximised everything.

“There’s still a lot to understand from it, and hopefully we’ll be like ‘oh yeah, we can do that better, that better’, and just get more lap time out of it.

“So no concerns, just the usual Friday night.”

A final hour of practice remains for teams in France, with Free Practice 3 set to get underway at 21:00 AEST this evening.

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