Major issue Ricciardo must confront

Adjusting to McLaren’s braking system remains the most prevalent challenge for F1 star Daniel Ricciardo ahead of the 2021 season.

Following an underwhelming two-year stint at Renault, the Australian driver signed a three-year contract with McLaren, and will make his debut for the British team at the Bahrain Grand Prix later this month.

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Ricciardo showed promising signs with his new team at pre-season testing this week, recording the fastest time during two of the morning sessions in Sakhir.

Despite the positive results, the 31-year-old had lingering concerns about the MCL35M, which features a Mercedes engine.

Ricciardo is renowned for being one of the bravest overtakers in F1, the Perth driver backing himself to brake late when passing his rivals.

But he was hesitant to attempt any drastic moves after starting at Renault because of unfamiliarity with the car’s brakes.

Daniel Ricciardo of Australia.Source:Getty Images

Speaking to reporters after pre-season testing, Ricciardo conceded he was encountering similar issues with McLaren’s car.

“It’s certainly different again, so I’m still probably adapting or adjusting to that,” he said.

“Going from Red Bull to Renault and Renault to McLaren, probably the braking is the biggest thing which it seems like you need to adapt.

“That is one where I am still trying to get on top of it and understand where the limit is.

“But I think generally in the past couple of years, it looks like they have had a pretty good car on braking.”

Although it may take time for Ricciardo to adjust to his new car, he remains adamant his famous late overtakes will return once he gets comfortable.

“I think that once I’m up to speed it should be a pretty good one and hopefully see some good passes from me again, some late ones,” he said.

“With the braking, it’s more probably just a mechanical feeling. I think even things like new cars, new pedals and positioning, it’s probably more just a feel on that physically than anything else for now.”

Daniel Ricciardo driving the MCL35M.Source:Getty Images

Lance Norris with new teammate Daniel Ricciardo.Source:Getty Images

Ricciardo finished the pre-season testing weekend with the seventh-fastest time, set on the final day while running the fourth softest compound Pirelli tyre.

He was almost half a second quicker than teammate Lando Norris, but was more than a second slower than Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Having finished third in the F1 constructors’ championship last year, behind powerhouse teams Red Bull and Mercedes, McLaren will be hoping the addition of Ricciardo can take it to another level.

“It’s difficult to know what everyone’s doing but we can be confident, we have a decent car,” Norris said.

“We have things to work on for sure, not everything’s perfect, but I’m happy and excited to get started.

“I think it’s gone well. I want to say we’re maybe a little more confident than we were last year.

“In terms of starting off with a good step and on the right foot, I think we’ve managed to do that and we have some good things to work on when we come back in two weeks.”

— with James Matthey & Tyson Otto

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