Andrea Stella goes deep into the hardships of Daniel Ricciardo at McLaren in F1 2021, where he explains some of the troubles amid positive growth.
Dwelling into the finer details of how and what is happening with Ricciardo, McLaren’s Stella kicked-off his thoughts by stating that the Australian’s driving characteristics and abilities is what caught the eyes of the British F1 team to hire him and for him to eventually make the move to the Woking-based outfit.
Expressing his thoughts, Stella left the supporters of Ricciardo and McLaren, excited and optimistic for the year and future ahead. The Australian, so far, has finished in the Top 10 every weekend, apart from Monaco, Austria and Hungary; however, the pressure and expectations placed on him for better results and the quicker pace of teammate Lando Norris, showed the need for the Australian to work and progress.
Though his racecraft is quite clear and complete, the first half of the 2021 season saw him struggling with qualifying pace and the inability to extract as much speed from the car as possible, with him lacking one-tenth of a second, in reference to Norris. This coupled with the performances of their rivals, who are closely matched to each other.
As has been mentioned by McLaren multiple times, Stella explained why the expertise and experience of Ricciardo is still not helping him for a quicker adaption to MCL35M, where he noted that the Australian’s style is one that is on the opposite end of how the the car is driven. He prefers to carry his speed in the corner, where their car does not perform its best this year. Such characteristics of the car requires the Australian to adapt in a special way in order to gain the ultimate speed to exploit the maximum.
“What we kept from 2020 onto 2021 were some characteristics of our car which makes it relatively special to drive, I have to say, and which in a way we see even with the experience that Daniel is going through, because he came from, I would say, the opposite end in terms of how you would like to drive a F1 car,” started Stella when speaking to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“Our car requires some special adaptation, let’s say. While we work to improve this aspects, so I think it’s no secret that our car is good in high speed corners, for example may not be the best car when you have to roll speed in the corner as another example. As I said, he came to Mclaren in terms of driving characteristics, like he is a driver who likes to roll the speed in the corner, not necessarily attack the braking as much as our car requires.
“And I think we understood very quickly what the issue was in terms of exploiting all the speed and the understanding is good where we could model this aspect which means with Daniel you know what to do in terms of working at the simulator working in terms of coaching the driver to some aspects,” summed up Stella, who took the example of a musician to further explain the situation with Ricciardo, especially on the progress side.
“The progress that we do see race after race is not necessarily in F1 like a switch from race to race, sometimes I take the example of musician,” said Stella. “A musician, you can tell him how to play a guitar, you can use a lot of theory, but at some stage you will have to spend quite a lot of time with the guitar and make quite a lot of exercise and you don’t necessarily take a step in concerts, most of the progress you make it when you work in background at home and you spend hours and hours exercising one aspect which may not be simple or at least I don’t hear enough about it is that in current, F1 it is not easy to exercise.”
Looking to solve the issue and close the gap to the 1/10 of a second missing has seen Ricciardo put in the time in the simulator, especially with no testing allowed. The switch from 2020 to 2021 had less days too, which made it troublesome for many drivers. While it is no excuse, but considering the other factors and characteristics of McLaren, it eventually made the Australian’s life tougher – although, Stella, is impressed by the racecraft.
“Winter testing was to a minimum in 2021, free practice sessions on Friday, you have one hour less to practice and still it’s a practice in preparation for a race, it’s not a practice in which you can do some systematic work of adapting to a car that are required to operate at the incredibly high level at which F1 drivers operate nowadays,” said Stella. “I have to stay, I’ve gone in this business for some time. The level of drivers now is very high. The number of drivers that can drive at very high level is considerable compared to what I’ve seen before.
“But we do see progress step by step. We also see the racecraft of Daniel which is very complete, so if anything the key thing at the moment is that little bit of speed but the starts and the standing of the racing the way he’s been so precise. Keeping some quicker cars behind him like if you think about Austria with Carlos. The understanding of the car, pretty much straight away, he got the understanding of the features of the car in winter testing, so his racecraft is very strong,” summed up Stella.
Aside the technical aspects of the adjustments, Stella spoke highly of his attitude, which is what keeps the morale high, for him and the McLaren group around him. His ability to stay positive, regardless of his struggle to reach his target, in terms of speed, makes for a pleasant work environment. His signature smile, charisma, and constant strife towards being better leaves them all optimistic about the future.
“The attitude is very positive, it’s exactly what we see and what you know about Daniel,” said Stella. “Even when we are not achieving the speed that we would like, the spirit is strong, the motivation is very high and somehow we keep enjoying the journey. Not necessarily, in my experience, a driver who cannot find the final one tenth of a second keeps being an enjoyable driver to work with for the whole team, but this is the case with Daniel, so I’m very optimistic for the future.”
The article was written by Selena Aburas
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