New McLaren signing Daniel Ricciardo believes he's in a better place than most seasons after just one race with his new team.
The Australian has joined the Woking team after two seasons with Renault and, after outqualifying Lando Norris at the first time of asking, looked set for a strong first race with McLaren.
However, Ricciardo was struck by Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri on the first lap and suffered damage that left him trailing home a distant seventh. Despite the setback, Ricciardo is optimistic that he has much more pace to show with a more straightforward race.
“I’m looking forward to getting back in the car after a positive start in
Bahrain," Ricciardo told media in his race preview.
"We secured a good result in that first race, and it felt amazing to make my debut for the team.
"I was a bit unfortunate with the damage we found on the car after the race, and there’s still a few more things to learn and get to grips with which takes a bit of time. But given that, I’m confident we’ve got a lot more performance left to unlock."
With McLaren optimistic of a strong start to the season, with the team's MCL35M performing strongly due to a unique design of their diffuser, Ricciardo said he's already in a much stronger position than he's seen at the same point in previous seasons.
"We’ve been working hard back at the factory to understand how we can build on that solid start," he explained. " I completely expected it to take a few races to feel comfortable in the car, but I’m feeling better after race one than I had done at the same point in previous years, so that’s really promising.
“Imola’s up next and we’re going to give it plenty. It’s an iconic old-school track with a fast and flowing layout that provides little room for error. I’m really excited to be heading back there after last year’s race where I finished on the podium.
"I’m definitely planning on bringing that experience from last year to help the team this weekend and fight for those points.”