Formula 1 managing director Ross Brawn said that a sixth-place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix came at the “perfect time” for Daniel Ricciardo.
Since arriving at McLaren from Renault over the off-season, the Australian has struggled to keep up with the impressive Lando Norris, beaten by the young Brit in race trim at the first three events of the year.
Like with many of the other drivers that changed teams questions were being asked of the adaptation period Ricciardo was going through, but he hit back in style at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Qualifying in seventh, two spots ahead of teammate Norris, Ricciardo drove a very solid race to claim P6 ahead of Carlos Sainz, having run in front of Sergio Perez for long periods.
Reacting to Ricciardo’s start to the year, Brawn said that while he had been “disappointed” with the new McLaren driver prior to this weekend, Sunday in Spain “was a step in the right direction”.
“It’s fair to say we’ve been disappointed with Daniel’s performances this year, but Sunday was a step in the right direction and I think he’ll now be feeling a lot more positive,” Brawn wrote in his usual column on Formula1.com. “McLaren are a couple of places down on where they would like to be based on their speed in Spain but for Daniel, that will be a confidence booster for sure.
“He generally goes well at Monaco, too, so this result comes at the perfect time and could be the start of some consistent improvement.
“The challenge a driver faces when changing teams should not be underestimated. I think some drivers are better at coping at that than others. Historically, some drivers have walked into teams and they know exactly what they want and how to articulate that.
“It depends completely on the personality of that driver. There are so many nuances in the relationship between an engineer and a driver. It may take some time for an engineer to understand the magnitude of a complaint or request. Getting that relationship right is vital – and it’s only natural that it can take some time.
“It doesn’t help that right now, it’s difficult to spend time at the factory because of Covid so it may take drivers a bit longer to settle and maybe that is what is happening now,” Brawn added.
“I think Daniel is starting to understand how to work with the team and the team are understanding how to work with Daniel – and the quicker that relationship continues to improve, the quicker the results will come.”