Daniel Ricciardo felt he improved quite on qualifying side in F1 2021 but was not perfect sure, while on race side it was easier as he had time in the course to improve.

The year 2021 for Ricciardo was the epitome of a year of the highest highs and the lowest lows for the Australian in his debut season at McLaren. In the first half, he struggled wildly with the unique braking and handling characteristics of the high-downforce era McLarens, traits which Carlos Sainz noted in Ricciardo’s defence.

The then seven-time race winner, who left Red Bull to join Cyril Abiteboul’s long-term Renault project would think better of the move after only two seasons at Enstone. Prior to the start of 2021 many expected Ricciardo to outpace highly rated teammate Lando Norris straight from the off, and if not in the first few races, certainly before the summer break.

However, Norris decisively defeated Ricciardo across the entire season on points as straight from the outset the newest McLaren driver struggled to make headway with the car. Adorned in Gulf colours in Monaco, McLaren were in the spotlight, and Norris scored a remarkable podium in P3, embarrassing Ricciardo in P12 and lapped by his teammate.

Nevertheless it was qualifying where Ricciardo lacked the most, notably missing out on Q3 in five consecutive races and finding enough pace in the race in the Italian GP to lead home a brilliant McLaren 1-2. Even though the consistency was up and down in qualifying when compared to races, the Australian felt the improvements were certainly there.

He said he found confidence and the gains he made were over-shadowed a bit due to the close grid that was in 2021.  “There’s certainly been some performances [where I was] still trying to get comfortable with the limit,” said Ricciardo when asked by FormulaRapida.net.

“I think definitely felt better in the second half of the season and although it might still not always show on paper I think there’s an inner confidence that I do feel better with the car. But I was certainly not perfect with it, so although I improved it was still especially extracting everything on one lap that’s when you really need to be in tune and have a lot of confidence.

“Over the course of a race you’ve ultimately got more opportunities to make a good lap if you know what I mean, so there’s still a little bit of that [at play]. I think generally I was happy with the progress but still obviously looking for more,” summed up Ricciardo.

The story was written by Danny Herbert

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