McLaren young gun Lando Norris has taken a thinly-veiled swipe at his teammate Daniel Ricciardo, seemingly questioning why it is taking him so long to adjust to his new car.
The Australian has struggled in his first season at McLaren since moving from Renault and is ninth in the drivers’ standings, way behind Norris who sits third overall.
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Ricciardo’s best result so far this year is fifth place at the British Grand Prix and while he has had solid results in Austria, France, Spain and Italy, he has only finished ahead of his teammate on one occasion.
The 32-year-old has made no secret of his desire to improve in the second half the season, but is yet to master the complex nature of the McLaren.
And how his younger teammate has expressed his surprise at Ricciardo’s difficulties in adapting to his new car.
Norris said it’s “interesting” other drivers in their first year at new teams such as his former McLaren teammate Carlos Sainz (now at Ferrari) and former world champion Fernando Alonso (at Alpine) have taken to their new cars like fish to water, but Ricciardo hasn’t.
“I know it’s not easy (for Ricciardo), but I didn’t have an experience like his one, switching cars one time, again and again. So I can’t judge,” Norris told Sky Italia.
“It’s interesting noticing as other drivers like Carlos at Ferrari are already back on the pace, Fernando as well with Alpine.
“I thought Daniel too would have been back on the pace at this time, but he’s not far (away).”
However, Ricciardo is remaining optimistic he can turn his form around and is taking a long-term view to his time at McLaren.
Earlier this month McLaren CEO Zak Brown said the British team should be well-placed to challenge for the championship in 2024, once it has all its infrastructure up and running at its UK base in Woking.
This includes the team’s new state-of-the-art wind tunnel to help testing and aerodynamics, which is due to be ready for use in 2022.
“I think it’s always dangerous to pick a point in time in which you should be going for it,” Brown told Motorsport.com.
“What I will say is we will have caught up by 2024 with all of our infrastructure, most specifically the wind tunnel.
“I think we’ll have no excuses come the 2024 season, and would like to think that by that point, the sport is going to be so competitive that there’ll be a variety of teams fighting for the championship, and I like to think we’d be one of them.”
Ricciardo agrees McLaren is on the right path and he is aiming to be in “a prime spot” for the 2024 season, where he can potentially challenge for the championship.
“I understand that the team is on a great trajectory, but now there are still a few hurdles in place that are probably going to stop us, let’s say, fighting for a championship for the next year or two,” Ricciardo said in an interview with Motorsport.com.
“But it is a bit of a reality now that the wind tunnel is a pretty big piece of the puzzle. It might be the last piece of the puzzle for the team.
“I think me, looking at it now, I really look to just to try and keep building on where I am now over the next couple of years with McLaren, and then hopefully put myself in a prime spot for that ‘24 season.
“It sounds crazy to talk that far ahead. But yeah, sometimes you’ve got to think like that.”
While he is desperate to see his results improve soon, Ricciardo is determined not to get frustrated and keep working away in a calm manner.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely trying. I want all the glory today,” he said.
“But I guess the experience tells me that it’s definitely a process.
“But I guess with the age and wisdom and probably maturity comes some more composure than say, when I was younger, expecting the world from everything and it wasn’t happening.
“Then yeah, I probably would have thrown a few tantrums by now and lost it mentally so to speak.
“So that’s where being here for a while now kinda helps take a breath, step back, go through it and understand that there’s a reason why things aren’t great right now.
“I need to find some answers as opposed to just throw my hands up and walk away from it all.”
Ricciardo also admits it is unlikely teams other than Red Bull and Mercedes will win Grand Prixs this year, so he is finding other ways to keep himself motivated.
“In a way you have to change a little bit,” he said.
“I don’t know (if) it’s mindset, goals, target, but you have to create different victories in your mind where a victory might not always be first place.
“Going back to last year a victory at Renault was getting that car onto the podium. I knew if I was able to do that would give me that satisfaction.
“So ultimately, yes, nothing beats winning and that’s what I signed up for when I was young trying to do all this.
“I know you’re only going to win if you’re in that top team or maybe those four cars a year. “If you’re not, you’ve got to set other targets for yourself and keep your stock high, keep your motivation high.
The F1 season resumes after its mid-season break at the Belgian Grand Prix on 29 August.