Neither Daniel Ricciardo nor his team were leaving anything to chance as they partnered together for the first time in a grand prix on the weekend.
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An image of Ricciardo in the cockpit ahead of lights out showed him doing some last-minute studying of notes he’d prepared, to ensure he was ready for his maiden race in orange.
Among the reminders the 31-year-old had set for himself included not looking at his fuel gauge on the dashboard unless told to, and being really clear over the radio with his new colleagues, “especially on the first laps”.
“If in doubt ask, ‘What’s the picture?’” one sentence said.
Other pointers included watching his pace management in Turns 6 and 12, and avoiding “rear instability snowballing through the lap”.
McLaren also played its part to ensure any teething problems were kept to a minimum.
That was evident when Ricciardo was asked to box mid-race and after he entered pit lane, his race engineer reminded the West Australian twice over the radio to go towards the “pit crew in orange”.
After two years looking for the Renault crew in yellow and black, McLaren didn’t want to risk Ricciardo falling into old habits and ending up at the wrong garage.
Thankfully, the Honey Badger kept his wits about him and remembered he’s driving for a new team this season, avoiding any case of mistaken identity.
Ricciardo was pleased at how his first race with McLaren panned out, even though he finished behind teammate Lando Norris (fourth) after qualifying ahead of the Brit, and is optimistic about the season ahead.
However, he’s got plenty more homework to do after struggling to extract maximum pace out of his car and juggling his tyre management.
“I think the weekend as a whole, pretty satisfied. The race itself I struggled with pace. I wouldn’t say it was a strong race by any means but plenty to work on and learn from,” Ricciardo said.
“Definitely not discouraged just still definitely some work to do.
“As the race went on I felt like I was just falling back and back and just struggled to push on the tyre and keep it (at optimum temperature). I felt like I’ll just cook it.
“I’m sure there’s still some finessing that I can do with the car, and just learn probably what sweet spot I’m after in the set-up.”
“I remember with Renault two years ago, this (Bahrain) was race two — and I was leaving pretty down still after race two. It did take time. I certainly feel much better right now.
“I feel like there’s for sure still things to learn. But I’m certainly much closer to where I need to be. It’s just going to take time … but Imola’s next. I like that place and we’ll go fast.”
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