Pundits keep lining up to dissect Daniel Ricciardo’s woes as he stumbles his way through the opening races of the season with McLaren.
A grim P12 was all he could muster in Monaco following a terrible weekend of practice and qualifying, but on the other side of the garage it was all smiles for teammate Lando Norris, who scored his second podium of the year.
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Ricciardo hasn’t been able to master his new car since arriving from Renault, speaking regularly about his failure to find the machine’s sweet spot.
Ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, Norris praised former McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz for being able to handle a car even when it wasn’t behaving exactly as he wanted, then suggested Ricciardo didn’t have that same skillset.
Speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, commentator Tom Clarkson said it was “quite barbed” for Norris to make the comment publicly while former F1 star Damon Hill said his teammate’s assessment will heap more pressure on Ricciardo.
“Lando made some interesting comments saying that where Carlos was good is he can drive a car that’s not perfect, and that maybe Daniel can’t,” Hill said. “I thought that was quite an interesting comment to make.
“That lays a bit of pressure back onto Daniel’s shoulders if his teammate is suggesting he’s not the kind of driver who can adapt — and you’ve got to be able to adapt.”
Broadcaster Natalie Pinkham wasn’t a fan of Norris’ comments, saying he should have kept his views private.
“It’s a bit disappointing, I’m not sure why you make comments like that publicly,” she said. “Why? I don’t think you need to.”
Clarkson said it was so Norris could “have a dig” at Ricciardo while Hill added: “Because you’re in competition. That’s why — and everything comes into play. That’s the game.”
Ricciardo still hasn’t got the hang of his McLaren.Source:Getty Images
Ricciardo’s complicated relationships cause concern
Ricciardo’s first season with Renault in 2019 didn’t go to plan as he finished a lowly ninth in the drivers’ standings — well below where he was used to with Red Bull.
The Australian improved in 2020 but jumped ship just as Renault looked like it was making progress. Now at square one with another team, there are suggestions a lack of continuity is hurting Ricciardo’s chances of success.
“How much does Daniel need to change what’s going on around him? At what point do you start questioning the engineers around him, for example?” Clarkson said.
“You do see drivers when they move teams taking their engineers with them. You look at the relationships Daniel’s had with his previous engineers, Simon Rennie at Red Bull or Karel Loos at Renault last year.
“Part of the problem is clearly the car, but part of it is also communication, because he’s had to find new ways of understanding.
“You do things in different ways, do you need to start looking at that as well?”
Hill believes changing cars in the past few years has been a hindrance for Ricciardo, and there is always a benefit to consistency at the same outfit.
“What is interesting is the difference between someone like Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen or Lando Norris or even Michael Schumacher,” Hill said.
“When these guys came in, they didn’t know any different. So when they get given a car, (they say), ‘That’s the car, I’ll drive it’.
“Those guys have got no reference point. Daniel Ricciardo has got a lot of reference points.”
Pinkham added: “There’s an argument then to not switch teams. Stay in, get in, grow with the team like Lando is with McLaren, and Max with Red Bull.
“There is a lot to be said for establishing a long relationship with one team.”
Teammates are the fiercest competitors in F1.Source:Getty Images
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