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How to be perfect at McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo. Credits: Getty Images.

Last year, McLaren signed Daniel Ricciardo as a replacement for Carlos Sainz. The Australian driver is still looking for his marks in his new team, as he explains how he plans to adapt and his ambition in a team that probably has the biggest momentum amongst the current F1 grid.

Last season, McLaren was probably the most impressive team as they managed to be very consistent, achieving to edge Racing Point and Renault in the last race of the year to clinch P3 in the constructor’s championship. 

This year, however, the British team lost one of its biggest assets in the person of Carlos Sainz, as he was recruited by Scuderia Ferrari and did not want to deny this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.

McLaren only needed a few days to get themselves together and officialize the signing of Daniel Ricciardo, former Renault driver, as a replacement for the Spaniard. The Australian driver, therefore, has a whole new world to discover this year, having to work with new personalities, a new teammate, a new car, a new managing spirit, and other aspects that imply moving from one team to the other.

The Aussie pointed out the fact that you can feel McLaren’s momentum, which has been bringing them so far since 2018, as soon as you arrive at their very impressive technology center.

“Momentum isn’t just a feeling, it’s also visual. You see it when you walk into the McLaren Technology Center, there’s people with a spring in their step, there’s happiness and an energy around the workplace. That’s momentum,” said Ricciardo.

Nonetheless, this very special atmosphere the British team is giving off might also be a big pressure factor for a new driver, as Ricciardo still sounds like he is not 100% confident with his new squad.

“So that’s where driving isn’t everything and why normally with a new team, it takes time to perfect it. I think I’ll be good come race on, but will I be perfect in that environment yet? The plan is to be [perfect], but the truth is I probably won’t be,” he explained.

“‘Am I going to be scared or is this going to feel OK?’ and you wonder if, I don’t know, being detached from the sport for a few months, if that creates something weird, but normally after a few laps, it all feels normal again,” the Aussie added, showing how much pressure he is putting on his shoulders, going on the next big challenge of his career. 

The 31 years old already pointed out the fact that he joined McLaren for the great progress they did in the past few years and that he wants to be able to fight for a world championship as soon as possible, as he anticipates the end of his career.

Nonetheless, why does this specific team make everyone admire them so much, even one of the best current Formula One drivers admitting to being impressed by the Orange manufacturer, and why do they impose so much respect?

First of all, we have probably all noticed the very friendly relationship everyone seems to have with each other at McLaren, and the happiness surrounding the team that Daniel Ricciardo pointed out. 

Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Racing really looks like a second father for his drivers and really tries to motivate them to push their limits, that is what he also did with Daniel Ricciardo this year, offering him a NASCAR drive if he managed to score a podium. Furthermore, with such an atmosphere, the drivers probably want to respect each other as much as possible on track, in order to respect the hard work and dedication of their team.

This very respectful atmosphere really creates a dynamic aura around McLaren and is probably one of the main factors of the incredible progression the team managed to have in the past three years.

Moreover, the team also can count on the racing genius of Andreas Seidl. The German was recruited in 2019 and is now the team principal. Seidl is extremely talented when it comes to putting a manufacturer on the front row of a motorsports category. 

You might already know Seidl from the time he was Porsche’s endurance team principal. In two years, the German prodigy led them to three consecutive Le Mans titles with their fabulous 919 Hybrid.

Seidl was already mentioned by a lot of McLaren team members, including Daniel Ricciardo, as a real genius that has an impressive work ethic and that is able to understand very complex situations very quickly. It is for sure no coincidence that the team came back to clinch third position in the constructor’s championship just one year after he was hired.

“I really like Andreas (…), he is a good operator and I think he has contributed a lot to the team and contributed to the structure,” said Ricciardo.

Finally, the team could of course count on some of the most talented drivers amongst the current Formula One grid for the past three years. It is no coincidence that Carlos Sainz was recruited by Ferrari, as the Spaniard showed extreme pace and confidence behind the wheel of his McLaren single-seater. 

Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. Credits: Getty Images.

Sainz was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo, one of the most talented drivers in the world, in 2021. And of course, this pure talent is added to the young genius of Lando Norris, who’s always been able to deal with pressure from very strong teammates.

These are probably the main reasons that allowed McLaren to be one of the most admired teams in the world of Formula One, and it is safe to say that if Daniel Ricciardo can manage to adapt quickly to his new team, the orange manufacturer might be able to arrive stronger than ever in 2022 with the new era of the sport, even being able to fight for a world title, 14 years after Lewis Hamilton last won a championship behind the wheel of a McLaren, in 2008.

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