Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris talk about how they felt driving the MCL35M at first, as Andrea Stella expand on the team’s characteristics and methodology. 

This year’s McLaren is one that has come about after certain technical changes and the engine change. The latter has greatly enhanced car performance this season, according to racing director Andrea Stella and Team principal, Andreas Seidl.

However, what has been harder to improve on, is the characteristics of the car. Stella has spoken on how aerodynamic efficiency on the MCL35M has troubled a bit, considering the regulation changes and downforce loss, but there is only so much one can do.

With maximum levels of aerodynamic efficiency comes months or even years of development, so such characteristics are difficult to completely get rid off. “When I talk about aerodynamics, this is definitely what leads to these characteristics but is also quite difficult to find because to generate the aerodynamic forces you need very established floor structure and it takes months and months or years and years of development to consolidate this pro-structure such that you can achieve aerodynamic efficiency of the car and the front car which is absolutely astonishing and never met in the past by any F1 car,” said Stella to media including FormulaRapida.net.

“So when these characteristics is embedded so deeply, it is difficult to change that, if you see what I mean, so then it’s easier to work with mechanical aspects but even those aspects are relatively limited because of homologation in 2021. So you find yourself relatively stuck, I would say and that’s why a lot of the requirement and demand shifts on the drivers side like this is the tool it’s quick but it needs to be driven in a certain way there’s not much we can do at the moment.

“So why we can improve the aerodynamic efficiency? It is a lot more difficult to improve some of the characteristics with required the driving style if what I said makes sense,” summed up Stella, while explaining about how drivers have to cope with these things, especially for Ricciardo, who has switched teams.

Shifting focus fully onto the drivers and their driving style is what McLaren can ultimately hope to count on for the near future i.e. the rest of the season while developments are being made. The MCL35M thrives in high speed corners and when you attack the brakes, among other characteristics, however they don’t necessarily make the car any easier to drive.

The first half of the season for Ricciardo has been a struggle to adapt to the McLaren MCL35M, considering how different it was to his usual racing style, among other aspects. The Australian, in fact, talked of the differences from Red Bull to Renault to now. “I knew straight away it [MCL35M]  was a different beast so to speak,” he said.

“But then I’d be lying if I said the Renault wasn’t a different beast to the Red Bull, so they are all different. But there is certainly some things that this car is slightly more peculiar I would say, and that’s been more like the puzzle that I guess I’m still trying to solve. But, every car will respond and react different but yeah this one’s got couple other things I guess,” summed Ricciardo.

Though time and race weekends have passed, Ricciardo is still not able to extract as much from the car as both he and the team would like to. It is important to note, though, the substantial difference in racing the car on the track. With Ricciardo’s usual style being to roll speed through corners in a way that the McLaren is not able to perform well. Such characteristics along with the braking system of the car make it a bit harder for him.

While Ricciardo has his adjustment time, even though Norris has driven the car before and is already scoring well, it hasn’t been as smooth for the Brit too. He expanded on the 2021 car, and how it can be a challenge to really extract everything out of it all the time, not necessarily the problems faced by teammate but rather, knowing what to do to get exactly what you want of the car.

“At first, I was driving it very similar to last year, which in the end not the greatest driving and I mean i’m still trying get my head round it now, still trying to understand how to really extract everything out of it,” said Norris. “Extracting everything at every single weekend it’s not easy. It took me a while to realise how to drive it and it’s still taking me even till now to be able to know everytime I go out what I need to do to extract everything out of the car. It’s part of the challenge.”

The words from Norris will be a bit soothing for Ricciardo, but ultimately, the Brit has had the consistency all-through and it will be on the Australian to now catch up in 2021 and or at least do well from 2022 onward. While the Brit touched on a slight change in the characteristics of the car, Stella commented on how this year’s car is not far off of the cars that come before it.

Methodology of cars present and past are similar and a part of McLaren culture. “We’ve been scratching our heads like how long these characteristics they go back in time, so how much we embedded some of the characteristics, is what I was trying to say, because of the aerodynamic development,” said Stella, when asked about the philosophy of the team to embed similar traits on a car.

“I speak a lot about aerodynamics but that’s where the forces comes from essentially and indeed, I think it goes back to some seasons before the current seasons. In a way, its Mclaren set of characteristics, in terms of how the car delivers the aerodynamic forces which is not new to this year’s cars. This year’s car is a closer sister of last year’s car and certainly close relationship to the previous year’s cars, so in a way it has to do with methodology if you want, which can produce quick cars.

“I guess, we all agree on this one, but with some characteristics, let’s say, I don’t want to say too much about these characteristics, because even if we are changing dramatically, the technical regulations because this is so embedded in a way, it is still certainly a McLaren, we have an objective of like, we do want to improve some of the characteristics in the future because they might have to do with some of our methodology aspects, so it’s a wider reflection that we are going through its not only about the 2021 car,” summed up Stella.

The article was written by Selena Aburas

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