When Daniel Ricciardo joined Renault from Red Bull at the beginning of 2019 he took a few races to play himself in, but soon got on terms with Nico Hulkenberg.

The difficult he has faced in making the transition to McLaren has been the biggest surprise of the 2021 season. Some 11 races in, you need to look hard at the raw data to find signs of progress.

That is at least in part because Lando Norris dropped the ball more than once in qualifying over the opening races of the year. Ricciardo capitalised as his team mate slipped up, failing to produce the best on his final Q3 runs or having his quickest lap times deleted for track limits infringements.

After four races of this Norris told RaceFans he wasn’t concerned about the trend, and subsequent races have vindicated that confidence: He’s beaten Ricciardo every time since.

With Norris now bringing his ‘A game’ to qualifying as well as the races, Ricciardo’s struggles are in sharper relief. While Norris has never failed to reach Q3, Ricciardo has dropped out in Q2 five times and didn’t even make it that far in Portugal, to his obvious horror. Since then Ricciardo has had to revise his expectations of how quickly he’ll get on top of the McLaren.

Meanwhile Norris’ enforced retirement from the Hungarian Grand Prix, where Ricciardo’s car was also damaged, handed Ferrari the chance to draw level with them in the championship. It must be hurting Ricciardo to see his team mate third in the drivers’ standings – ahead of a Mercedes and a Red Bull – while he languishes behind the Ferrari pair, having contributed just 30% of McLaren’s total score.

It’s hard to imagine the newcomer can turn that around completely over the remaining races, but Ricciardo’s team urgently need him to start contributing more points if they’re going to beat Ferrari to third place.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo: Key stats

Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo: Who finished ahead at each round

Lando Norris vs Daniel Ricciardo: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Lando Norris was faster, positive means Daniel Ricciardo was faster

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 F1 season

Browse all 2021 F1 season articles

Source link