McLaren executive director Andrea Stella is confident his team will get more performance from Daniel Ricciardo in 2022 after the Australian had a difficult first season with the team.
Ricciardo joined McLaren from Renault ahead of 2021 to replace Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz, but despite winning in Italy he largely struggled to match teammate Lando Norris. Stella is unconcerned, however, seeing positive signs from Ricciardo through the year and believing there will be a further step forward with the new generation of car.
“On Daniel’s front, I think the progress through the season has been tangible,” Stella said. “Even if we look at Saudi … he was very quick in qualifying. You may remember in Q1 I think he was P3 or something and in Q2 actually, there was damage to the car on a curb which took Daniel out of contention, otherwise I think his performance in qualifying in Saudi would have been very strong throughout, even in Q3.
“We know that there’s more to come with Daniel. In a way, we have a development plan still and I am looking forward to seeing what we will be able to do (in 2022) with Daniel. I am very optimistic from this point of view.
“Let me just say working with him is a real pleasure. I think he creates a really nice atmosphere in the team which is a good foundation for technical and driving development.”
While McLaren is hoping for progress from Ricciardo in the new season, the team wants Norris to continue with the form he displayed in 2021 after a breakout year.
“I think Lando in his third year in Formula 1, he developed in terms of pure speed. I am confident to say in terms of pure speed he was one of the strongest drivers on the grid and I think this is true in all conditions.
“It’s enough to think about some of the performances in the wet but also the pole position he scored in Russia was in transitional tarmac conditions — we were in Q3, we shifted from intermediates to soft compounds.
“With Lando we also worked on improving the racecraft — so the capacity to score points — and I think this, in a way, is proven by the facts. Where I see the opportunity with Lando is on consolidating these very, very high standards that he has achieved every single session. So it’s a matter of more consistency of deploying this level of top performance.”