Ricciardo "not going to panic" over Austria Friday form for McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo says he is “not going to panic” despite being “surprised” that he could only finish 15th in Formula 1 practice for the Austrian Grand Prix on Friday.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M

Ricciardo has struggled for form through the early part of the 2021 season following his winter move to join McLaren, scoring less than half as many points as team-mate Lando Norris.

Ricciardo dropped out in Q2 last weekend at the Red Bull Ring before a power unit glitch in the race caused him to fall to 13th, marking a disappointing weekend.

Hopes of turning fortunes around for the second weekend at the track didn't appear to get much brighter on Friday as he finished 12th in FP1 and 15th in FP2, lapping two-tenths of a second off Norris’s time.

But Ricciardo said the car “didn’t feel that bad” through Friday’s running, and that while he was surprised to have finished so far down the order, he did not believe there was a huge change in approach required.

“I am a bit surprised with the classification,” Ricciardo said.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“We’re just lacking a little bit, but there’s nothing that feels out of place in the car, like I assume it’s probably just a little bit everywhere. I know there’s not many corners here, but maybe we’re just missing half a tenth everywhere, then that just adds up to half a second or something, and that’s what we need.

“It’s probably just some fine tuning tonight. I don’t think we need to reinvent the wheel. I think like with my driving and the points that I missed out last week, and areas I was lacking, I think I definitely made a good step today.

“So it’s just trying to then just make another one tomorrow, and we’ll be in a decent place.”

Ricciardo has been trying to adjust his driving style to fit the McLaren MCL35M car following his tricky start to the year that has seen him fail to finish a race any higher than sixth.

“I’m still trying to maximise the driving style that the car currently likes,” he said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to work on. We’re getting there.

“I think today was definitely some progress, we changed a few things with the car to kind of help me get that feeling. That was positive.

“Last Friday, we were actually looking pretty good, so if you look at the classification of last week to this week, you’ll think we’re miles off. Then obviously Saturday changed completely.

“I have confidence that we can move forward for tomorrow, as opposed to stay here or move back. That’s why I probably feel even a bit better today, but we’re obviously not there on the timesheets.

“So yeah, I’m not going to panic. A little bit of fine tuning, and I think we’ll find what we need tomorrow.”

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Norris led McLaren’s efforts last weekend in Austria as he qualified third and finished fifth, having scored his breakthrough F1 podium at the track in 2020.

Norris said he had a “good feeling” from the McLaren car after Friday’s running, but felt there was more to come after a varied day of running.

“We didn't put everything together, we just tested a lot of different things,” Norris said.

“Tonight we'll do our analysis and hopefully come back tomorrow with a better package.

“I think it will be a more interesting race than last weekend, more difficult to look after the tyres, to know when to push and when not to push and so on.

“Hopefully it's fine for us and we'll make sure we do a good job.”

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