Daniel Ricciardo’s move to McLaren ahead of the 2021 season was highly anticipated by fans, as it seemed that the Australian would form a strong partnership with Lando Norris and be able to show the full extent of his talent.
The 33-year-old unfortunately never managed to reach his full potential with McLaren, struggling to adapt to the needs of McLaren’s car and often being out-performed by his young teammate Lando Norris.
In fact, Ricciardo only managed to outqualify his teammate once in dry conditions in 2022, and this came in Barcelona when Norris was struggling with tonsilitis and still managed to finish half a minute ahead of Ricciardo come the end of the Grand Prix.
The qualifying score between the pair in the dry ended 14-1 in Norris’ favour, with the average gap in time being nearly three tenths of a second.
McLaren typically engineer cars that cater to a very specific driving style, which clearly does not match the famous late braking of Daniel Ricciardo and the Australian has suggested that his rigorous attempts to make the car suit him may have seen him lose his natural sense for driving.
“I also look back at my very first race with McLaren in 2021, I out-qualified Lando,” said Ricciardo.
“That was when I was still fairly ‘green’ with the car, if you know what I mean. I kind of wonder, did we just get lost along the way?
“Did I then start to try too hard, did we try to engineer it too hard, and get away from, let’s say, my strengths and then try to drive the car a certain way, [which was] maybe a big weakness for me and something that I couldn’t really grasp.”
The eight-time race winner has admitted that he never developed any confidence in the MCL36, explaining why he finished so far behind his teammate in the drivers’ championship.
McLaren took their battle for fourth place in the constructors’ championship with Alpine right down to the final race of the season, but this was mainly due to the heroics of Lando Norris, who outscored his teammate by a shocking 85 points in 2022, taking the fight to Alpine on his own.
McLaren will have Oscar Piastri partnering Norris in 2023, as the team opt to build for the future and progress their star driver into a more senior role with the team.