Daniel Ricciardo says McLaren need to learn as much as they can about their new car following a shocking start to the Formula 1 season.
- McLaren was well off the pace in the first race of the new F1 season
- Daniel Ricciardo finished the Bahrain Grand Prix in 14th, helped by three retirements ahead of him
- The Australian says the improvements needed to be more competitive won’t happen immediately
The British team were in all sorts of trouble in the opening race of the season in Bahrain, off the pace and fighting at the back of the field.
Ricciardo finished 14th, a place ahead of teammate Lando Norris, but they only finished so high because three cars well ahead of them retired late in the race.
F1 has gone through a massive regulation change and it was clear after the year’s first grand prix that McLaren have a lot of work to do to make their car competitive.
Ricciardo’s start to the season was also hampered when he missed the final pre-season testing session because of COVID, missing precious time learning the new car.
Heading into the year’s second race, the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix on Monday morning Australian time, Ricciardo said the improvements needed to climb up the grid wouldn’t happen quickly.
“The Bahrain Grand Prix was tough, and not how we wanted to start the season, but we’re putting together our plan to get higher up the grid,’ the Australian said.
“We know we might not get there in one weekend, so we’re focused on learning as much as we can at every event.”
F1’s first visit to the Jeddah street circuit last year was a positive experience for McLaren.
Ricciardo finished fifth while Norris was 10th.
Ferrari go into the Saudi race off the back of their first grand prix victory in two and a half years.
The one-two finish for Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz was an early warning shot to their rivals that the Italian outfit will be a force to be reckoned with in 2022.
But Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has been quick to hose down suggestions his team are favourites to win the drivers’ and constructors’ world championships.
Binotto told F1.com Red Bull were still the team to beat, despite both their cars breaking down and failing to finish in Bahrain.
“I think that the others are very, very strong,” he said.
“They [Red Bull] have proved to be very strong in qualifying.
“They had some reliability issues or something that is not perfect on their car from what we may understand from the radio communications.
“They would have been very fast otherwise.”