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McLaren

Why is Ricciardo so far behind Norris at McLaren?

Daniel Ricciardo is only in his second race at McLaren but he has been significantly slower than teammate Lando Norris throughout the Emilia Romagna GP. RacingNews365.com takes a look at the difference between the two drivers.

Article
To news overview © McLaren

On paper, Daniel Ricciardo is doing a great job at McLaren having outqualified teammate Lando Norris in Bahrain and Imola. However, Ricciardo has not adjusted to his new team as comfortably as many expected.

Going into the new season, the Australian was set to lead McLaren and it was Norris who was under severe pressure to perform. It's still early days, but the tables appear to have flipped at McLaren.

Norris was on course for a remarkable third place in qualifying on Saturday, having set the fastest first and second sectors. Unfortunately, his lap time was deleted as Norris ran wide at Turn 9 which has been the victim for many drivers at the Emilia Romagna GP.

"Today's the day I didn't want to make any mistakes, and I made a pretty big one," Norris told RacingNews365.com and other members of the press.

"We should have been much higher up and I let everyone down so pretty disappointed in myself, because we were doing a really good job since Friday and the car was really good.

"It was was nice to drive was fast, obviously but one little mistake and it all goes down the drain so I'm pretty disappointed but it happens."

Whilst the results may not show Norris' impressive form in Imola, his on-track performances have been excellent. He was very aggressive in the season-opening race at the Bahrain International Circuit, coming out on top against Ricciardo in a wheel to wheel battle before overtaking Charles Leclerc to take fourth place.

Ricciardo had a solid weekend in Bahrain but is not at one with the MCL35M on the high-speed track of Imola.

"I still need to get more out of the car and it took quite a while this weekend to try and get on top of it," Ricciardo told RacingNews365.com and other select members of the press.

"But I'm certainly still not where I want to be, it's probably just going to take time. The progress was really good through qualifying so I think that shows that more seat time will allow me to figure out where the limit is."

The gap between Norris and Ricciardo has likely been exacerbated by Norris riding on a very high wave of confidence whereas Ricciardo is still finding his feet.

Qualifying in Imola was one of the closest Saturdays in the turbo-hybrid era. The top eight were separated by just 0.487, the closest qualifying since Malaysia 2012.

With the field being so close, drivers who are not producing their A-game are being found out. Sergio Perez was a victim of this in Sakhir, failing to make the top 10 yet he was able to outqualify Max Verstappen in Imola.

Carlos Sainz showed good pace throughout practice but put a lap together which dumped him out of Q2. Ricciardo is the only driver of those who have changed teams to have made Q3 at the first two races.

It's not a significant achievement but it shows that his performances are not shocking. Ricciardo also struggled in the early phases of his time at Renault.

"If I look at Lando, I was always on the backfoot all weekend as far so there's still certainly time to find," said Ricciardo. "I'm gonna try my best to find something overnight.

"It's probably still another few races but I don't want to already go into that mindset of 'yeah, next race I'm not going to be as quick'.

"Each lap I turn is pretty crucial and I think every lap I turn I'm learning so I'm positive with the outcome of today [qualifying]. I'm certainly not doing cartwheels yet, but I'm content with the progress."

McLaren have been testing some new parts on the car in Imola which has paid off, given how close Norris was to pole position.

In pre-season testing they focused on comparing different parts and setups. The team have been doing similar programmes in the Friday practice sessions which masked their pace.

McLaren definitely have two strong drivers and Norris has proved his worth with an excellent start to the season. Ricciardo may not have shown the form that led him to seven F1 victories, but expect those performances to return sooner rather than later.

RN365 News dossier F1 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix

The latest news about the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix straight from the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari.

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