Key: Ricciardo’s 2022 issues different to last season

Daniel Ricciardo with his engineer, Tom Stallard

The battles Daniel Ricciardo is having with McLaren’s 2022 Formula 1 car are different to those he had a year ago.

That’s the assessment of McLaren’s executive director technical, James Key, who has shed some light on the battle the Australian has faced this season.

A year ago, Ricciardo battled to adjust to the driving style required of the MCL35M, a car which needed to be slowed more on approach to the corner and driven out.

“He came to McLaren, in terms of driving characteristics, I would say from the opposite end,” said McLaren’s executive director racing, Andrea Stella, at the time.

“He is a driver who likes to roll the speed in the corner, not necessarily attack the braking as much as our car requires.”

However, that is not the case this year, according to Key.

“I think I’d say probably a bit different,” he said.

“I mean, the car is completely different and you’re not creating some of the peaky kind of performance that we found with last year’s car – when it was strong, it was very strong, but then we had events where it really struggled a bit.

“So we haven’t quite got the peaky-ness I suppose with the feeling of the car.

“Equally, we’ve got certain weaknesses, and I think every team has, and they will affect one driver slightly differently to another.

“We’re working with both drivers to address the weaknesses that they’re pointing out that are unique to them, as well as the whole car.”

Last weekend’s French Grand Prix marked the Ricciardo’s fourth points-paying result from the opening 12 races, and the first time he’s finished in the top 10 in consecutive races.

It coincided with the introduction of a new upgrade package for the MCL 36 which sported dramatically reprofiled sidepods, highlighting something of a philosophical shift from the McLaren design office.

“I think it’s an improved version,” Ricciardo said of the developments.

“I think the car is ultimately still quite similar, it’s just got a bit more grip in places.

“I’m still not putting in the quali that I still want to put in, so until I do that, I probably won’t saw that I’m there yet.

“But obviously like Lando’s [qualifying] lap is encouraging because a top five is obviously a big, big day, and a big result.

“There’s still some places on the track, but just probably places in general where I still at times kind of scratch my head a bit trying to understand how to make it work like that.”

Formula 1 heads to the Hungaroring this weekend for the final event prior to the summer shut down, an event which last year saw both Ricciardo and Norris caught up in an opening corner melee in tricky wet conditions.

Early forecasts suggest a hit and dry opening to this year’s event on Friday, before thunderstorms hit the venue on Saturday.

Those are expected to ease overnight, however, with Sunday’s race likely to be dry.

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