"I like to compare it to a musician. You can explain to a guitarist exactly how to play his instrument, but it takes a long time before he can give his first concert. Progress can only be seen very slowly after many hours of practice," that’s how Andrea Stella, McLaren’s racing director, explained the struggles Daniel Ricciardo has faced to adapt to the McLaren car in the 2021 season so far.
"I think it's no secret that our car is good in high-speed corners for example. It may not be the best car when you have to roll speed in the corner, as another example. So while we are trying to adjust some of the characteristics to make it a little bit more natural to drive, at the same time, the most important thing is to deliver aerodynamic efficiency.”
"So the focus has always been on improving aerodynamic efficiency, even if we couldn't necessarily improve these aspects in terms of balance and in terms of exploitation of the car.”
"What is McLaren specifically is that our car clearly is on one side of this typical split of characteristics that you can achieve and that's why a lot of the requirement and a lot of the demand shifts on the driver side. 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."
The former Ferrari engineer spent 14 years at the Maranello team and used such experience to explain to the media the characteristics of the MCL35M, altogether with the differences with other F1 cars.
"There are some cars that can generate a lot of their lap time in a corner, and there are some cars that can generate a lot of the lap time, for example, in the straight-line part of braking.”
"So these aptitudes of the car associated with these two phases is quite different. In braking your straight-line characteristics are more important. In the middle of a corner, if you take a corner like Turn 2 in Hungary, it's such a long corner, so the car spends quite a long time in a lateral demand.”
"And then it's always difficult in F1 to find something that lends from a development point of view, these two things, and you get a car that is good on both.”
"Normally when you get a car that is good on both, then it means you are potentially one of the top two cars."
"It's always a bit difficult to find the right blend between having a car that is strong in each corner, and maintaining good characteristics in a straight line and high-speed."
The Italian spoke also about how the battle for P3 in the constructors’ championship standings is feeling inside the Woking-based team and assured that, although McLaren already finished on the podium of the constructors’ at the end of last season, the pace and consistency shown this year are a pleasant surprise.
“Being third is a great achievement, it was a bit surprising last year, fighting with Racing Point.
“And it is also this year, because we are fighting with Ferrari, which is obviously a great team, for which we have a lot of respect. We will see realistically if we are able to confirm third place, because the required point rate is this year very high.”
“We are averaging 16 points per race. And this, realistically, is quite an ambitious result.”