Daniel Ricciardo says his aim is to feel no “panic” when preparing to start his debut race as a McLaren driver in Bahrain, after a smooth first run in the new MCL35M at Silverstone.
McLaren carried out a filming day at the home of the British Grand Prix on the day after launching its Mercedes-powered 2021 car. While much of the focus was on systems checks and installations rather than any sort of performance at a cold and wet Silverstone, Ricciardo says from his personal point of view it’s to feel as comfortable and prepared by the time he’s on the grid for the opening race, as he has just one and a half days of official pre-season testing with his new team.
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“Reflection after the first day in the car is it feels longer than two months, actually! So always takes a little bit to get the cobwebs out,” Ricciardo said. “I think in these conditions as well — it was greasy, they don’t fill you with a lot of confidence after it’s been a while since being in a car! But it’s nice. Everything ran really smoothly; we completed what we had to so really that’s all you can ask for. And I know the more laps I turn the more confidence and comfort I’ll feel with this team.
“Every little bit helps. Getting up to speed with the team, going through all the procedures. Really, the target is to get to Bahrain on Sunday afternoon, be on the grid and for there to be no inch of panic. It’s really just about feeling comfortable and familiar with all the crew.
“So we’re going through that — we’re trying to go through scenarios that we would face on a race weekend and yes, we don’t have the atmosphere around us now but we can certainly try to replicate it and put a little bit of pressure on ourselves.”
Ricciardo says the progress so far this winter has been as successful as he could have hoped for, with no delays or unexpected setbacks.
“I think McLaren started on the right foot with the fire-up — that was a day early — and the first day of running on track, everything has been smooth. You can’t ask for too much more at this part of the season, so everything’s firing on the right cylinders now, so to speak and we’re all good.”