Lando Norris has empathised with McLaren team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, insisting that the car is a “difficult” one to get used to.
Norris managed a podium finish at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in the fourth round of the season, and has ended up in the top 10 nine times in the opening 11 rounds of the season.
By contrast, Ricciardo has scored points on just three occasions, and has a best finish of P6, which he managed at his home race in Australia.
The 22-year-old leads the qualifying battle 9-2, and is ahead by three in race trim over the Australian, but the championship table makes for the least pleasing viewing if you are a Ricciardo fan.
The 33-year-old is 12th in the Drivers’ Standings on 17 points, five positions and 47 points adrift of Norris as he continues to try and get a handle of the MCL36.
The silver lining is that Ricciardo’s performances of late have picked up following a nudge in the media from CEO Zak Brown, but the deficit to his team-mate can perhaps be explained by the characteristics of the car.
“I struggled at the beginning of the season probably with my driving style a bit more than what Daniel struggled with initially in the first few tests, and I feel like I had to adapt quite a bit,” explained Norris.
“Some of my feelings are not translated to his feelings and how we drive the cars is slightly different as well.
“I prefer a car with… I don’t mind as much instability from the car and kind of can push on the fronts more, and he prefers a car that is a bit more stable and made with a little more understeer.”
Norris divulged that former team-mate Carlos Sainz, who scored two podiums with the British side in 2019 and 2020, saw some perhaps counter-intuitive aspects of the car that he had to get used to.
“I do feel like it’s a difficult car to drive, our car,” he said.
“You know, I think our characteristics which he’s also had over the past few years, even Carlos said it, they’re quite specific and unique so some of the driving styles you need are not like ones you kind of grow up learning, and therefore you have to adapt quite a bit.
“Especially this year, the car’s very different, and some of the characteristics of last year are gone and we’ve introduced some other characteristics, so I’ve had to change my driving style.”
However, this cannot fully explain the difficulty Ricciardo is having with the car, because there are brand-new characteristics under the new technical regulations that Norris has also had to get used to.
“At the same time, I’ve also had to adapt to it, it’s not just because I’ve been with McLaren for four years that I know this car inside-out,” he added.
McLaren got both cars into the points for only the third time this year in Austria as Norris and Ricciardo finished seventh and ninth respectively.