McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl believes that Daniel Ricciardo is back at full strength as a driver, following a difficult 2021 season.
Ricciardo finished in sixth place in Australia last time out, shadowing teammate Lando Norris across the line after a late technical issue on the British driver's car slowed their pace.
Ricciardo's first season with McLaren in 2021 was a mixed one, as he struggled to keep pace with Norris for most of the year. While there were high points, such as his victory at Monza, his overall performance meant the spotlight was on him at the start of 2022.
Having contracted COVID-19 before the pre-season test in Bahrain, Ricciardo had a slow start to the campaign at the same venue. However, with the MCL36 struggling for pace throughout the opening round, neither Ricciardo nor Norris scored points.
There were signs of recovery in Saudi Arabia, although Ricciardo's race was stymied by a technical problem, before both drivers came home to claim a strong points finish in Melbourne.
As a result, Ricciardo's performances are no longer in question, according to Seidl.
Seidl has full confidence in Ricciardo
"From my point of view, he doesn't need to make a step," Seidl told media, including RacingNews365.com, during the Australian GP weekend.
"He made a big
step last year in the second half of the season, after the initial
challenges to adapt to our car and to the team.
"It was simply important over winter to keep building on that foundation and momentum as well.
"He had a great start straight away in this new car in
Barcelona for testing. Then, obviously, [getting] the COVID infection [and] missing the test didn't help for the Bahrain race weekend.
"But, in Jeddah, he was fully back up to pace. No worries at all.
"It's important for me to have two strong drivers, which we have, for the fight we're in in the Constructors' Championship."
McLaren still learning how to exploit performance
While McLaren were one of the strongest performers in the midfield in Australia, Seidl warned that the team's performance could be inconsistent as they figure out how best to use the MCL36 to its full potential.
"I think the track layout [in Australia] suited our package more than Bahrain, for example," he commented.
"Plus, I think we're still learning as well how to extract maximum performance from the current package.
"If you put that all together, I think that [resulted in us] doing that step again that [we saw]."
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