Daniel Ricciardo has made a candid declaration about his performance as his team showed off a complete transformation.
Daniel Ricciardo has been left blown away as McLaren unveiled its new car for 2022.
The Aussie and teammate Lando Norris were front and centre as the English-based team revealed its new-look MCL36 — with the team steering away from the blanket-orange livery that has defined the team’s cars in recent years.
Team principal Andreas Seidl said during the announcement he is hoping the MCL36 can “further close the gap to the front of the pack”.
The new colour scheme — described by the team as papaya and blue — is just as different as the technical aspects of the car, which has undergone a massive transformation to adjust to the F1 regulations overhaul introduced ahead of the 2022 Formula 1 season.
The most notable change to the 2022 McLaren is a new-look front suspension system which has theoretical aerodynamic advantages on the previous MCL35M.
It has been a big news week for McLaren with the announcement coming just a few days after the team announced Norris has signed a contract extension with the team. The deal will run through to the end of the 2025 season.
Ricciardo is also under contract with the team until the end of the 2023 season with McLaren CEO Zak Brown boasting about the dup being the “most complete) driver pairing in Formula 1.
Ricciardo is heading into his second season with the team.
The 32-year-old has made a major admission about the MCL36, revealing he got to have a significant say on how the car has been developed to iron out some of the rough characteristics that he struggled to adapt to in 2021.
Ricciardo struggled for pace at times last year compared to Norris, but he also secured the team’s only race win of the season.
He said he was “banging the drum” loudly to have the car take into account some of his major strengths as a driver.
“From very early on, from when I first got into the car, I was relaying information on this is what is different to the Renault or the Red Bull, so I was already kind of feeding information,” Ricciardo said at the launch, according to autosport.com.
“As we were more races deep in, I was still kind of not doing as well as I thought, so I was beating it a little bit louder. The positive was that Lando was also in agreement to that, and he would have like to have these attributes as well in the car, and what we could do with it.
“There’s a lot of emphasis on that for this year’s car, but it’s also a whole new car so we don’t know if that is also the best way to drive this car.”
He also admitted his early struggles in 2021 were partly the result of him being in the dark on what his strengths were as a driver.
He said the reality is that he will continue to need to adapt his style to the strengths of the car.
“There’s a lot I can use from that moving forward, simply because yeah, it kind of occurred to me that I didn’t really know my strengths,” he said.
“I knew that I could be very fast — but I thought maybe because I have got bigger balls in the high-speed corners and I just care less! I don’t know.
“But going through it, I realised OK, this is what made me fast in years past. This is what actually gives me confidence in the car, and this is actually where I’m better than others, in this part, and that was at times when I couldn’t do it in the car, so that’s kind of how I discovered that.”
He was blown away when the new car was unveiled.
“Wow,” he said when the covers were taken off.
“It’s vibrant. It’s awesome. F1 is a lot about performance and that’s its primary purpose. But what comes a close second is looking good and I’m very pleased that before we’ve even hit the track we look good.
“There’s always a nervous excitement around the start of the new season, but that’s turned up to 11 when you enter a new era of regulations.
“Heading into my second year with McLaren feels great and I feel like we learned a lot as a team in 2021, which will help us as we take on this new challenge.”
It comes one day after Ricciardo showed off the helmet he will wear this year.
Ricciardo and Norris will put their new car through its paces at testing in Barcelona from February 23-25 ahead of the season-opener in Bahrain on March 20.
Alpha Tauri are the next team to present its car Tuesday (AEDT) followed next week by Williams, Ferrari and Mercedes.
— with AFP