McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that his team have a more intimate knowledge of the problems that affected them during last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, but reiterates that the few days since the season-opener will not have given them sufficient time to fix them.
Ricciardo found himself out in the first phase of qualifying last Saturday, before team-mate Lando Norris was knocked out in Q2, as McLaren failed to make the top 10 shootout for the first time since the Russian Grand Prix in 2020.
Their race pace did not yield much more joy, as the Australian ended up P14, one position ahead of his 22-year-old team-mate.
Having set 367 laps in Barcelona and been consistently towards the top of the timing sheets, the Woking side suffered brake issues in the second test in Sakhir, as Norris set 199 laps across the three days amid the COVID-19-induced absence of the 32-year-old.
The apparent deterioration of their form is something that caused “confusion” among the team, but Ricciardo affirms they are starting to familiarise themselves with exactly what obstacles they are facing.
“We certainly understood a bit more after the race and even looking at the Barcelona test to the Bahrain test, I think there was a little bit of… I don’t know if confusion’s the right word but it’s like ‘where did we lose out, where did it go wrong from a few weeks ago?’” he told Sky Sports.
“So I think we’ve understood the reasons why maybe we fell away a little bit from the pack, so I think that’s one.
“Part of moving forward is understanding it, can be it addressed now? In the space of a few days, not to a great extent but maybe this circuit suits us a bit more, you never know but I think for now all we can do is do our best with the car we have and try to just keep giving the team as much information as possible.
“It’s important to still carry ourselves in a good way and I think the team is going to also go through the highs and lows with us and it’s important to keep them motivated more than ever because we obviously need to find some speed.”
The eight-time race winner was asked if he had any inclination as to what a good performance would look like, and he maintains that he simply wants a feeling of satisfaction at a job well done when he crosses the timing beam.
“In terms of position, not really,” he replied.
“Just that feeling when you cross the line thinking that you’ve done a good lap, and put everything out there and that’s really it, and hopefully that means, maybe in this situation, maybe that means we’re [in] Q3 or something but otherwise you just go with the feel and you’ll know it as well from the stopwatch if you’ve done okay or not.”
McLaren, Williams and Aston Martin – all powered by Mercedes – ended up at the bottom of the classified finishing order in Bahrain last weekend as they failed to score points, while the Mercedes team themselves achieved a podium through Sir Lewis Hamilton after reliability issues for Red Bull.