McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl believes Daniel Ricciardo has shown significant improvement since the summer break leading up to his victory in the Italian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo struggled at the majority of tracks during the opening half of the year trying adapt to the characteristics of the McLaren car following his switch from Renault over the winter. Lando Norris had been the clear lead driver of the two but Ricciardo’s form picked up after the enforced shutdown in August and he duly won at Monza. While Seidl doesn’t see one key change that resulted in Ricciardo’s improvements, he noted the mental break might have been the most important aspect.
“We all don’t know what he did exactly in these three weeks, we probably also don’t want to know!” Seidl joked. “It is probably not different for you guys, sometimes it is simply good to have a break and a bit of a distance after a very intense period for him when he was putting in a lot of energy together with the team and some of the results did not come.
“Maybe he needed that break to step away a bit, reflect, and then come back and apply everything we worked through in the first half of the season. Somehow that seemed to work from the first outing onwards in Spa, and worked out over the course of the triple-header. Even if it was not that noticeable in Zandvoort because we struggled overall with the performance of the car.
“Very happy for him that he could make the step and pull this great win off, together with Lando, a great performance from both guys. Looking forward now to a strong second half of the season on his side and a continuation of the strong form from Lando.”
The moment @DanielRicciardo added his own piece of McLaren history to the MTC trophy cabinet. 🏆🥰
And he picked a spot alongside a very special trophy. 👏🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/Umk6gu1I8H
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) September 16, 2021
Seidl also said Ricciardo’s performance level was as strong as Norris’ in Monza even if the two were regularly close on track, and that they simply controlled the race when out in front.
“You need to understand that we prepared very well for the race on the strategy side with both drivers, so the team is doing a sensational job there. During the race it was simply a good communication between drivers and the pit wall in order to understand at every single point of the race, is there pace in hand or not? Because we needed that information in the end to tell Daniel again to go faster.
“I think we had two cars that had exactly the same pace, both cars were in control of the pace at any point of the race. In the end, it was just important to manage the gaps between Daniel and Lando, make sure he always had a tow, and then Lando and the car behind.
“That is why all this communication was going backwards and forwards, and why Lando, for example, also wanted us to tell Daniel to push a bit more in order to be a bit more safe compared to the car behind. That’s what we did. It was great to see how the team pulled that off as a team effort.”