Daniel Ricciardo claims he “had fun” fighting new McLaren team-mate Lando Norris in the opening stages of the Bahrain Grand Prix but stated he would have been “more satisfied” if his new team had been involved in the battle up front.
While Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen raced nose-to-tail for Mercedes and Red Bull in the final laps of the season-opening race, Ricciardo and Norris had to settle for seventh and fourth respectively.
Ricciardo said: “I wouldn’t say it was a strong race by any means, but plenty to work on and learn from.
"I’d have loved to have been in the battle for the win. It sounded like it was pretty good. I would have been more satisfied with that.”
The Australian had expected it would take time to bed in at his new team, but feels he is already making faster progress than he did when he switched from Red Bull to Renault two years ago.
He added: “[I’m] not discouraged, just some work to do. I remember with Renault two years ago, this 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 things to learn but I’m certainly much closer to where I need to be. Even the power unit, just trying to still figure out throttle settings and that, that will naturally take a bit of time.”
Ricciardo finished 20 seconds behind team-mate Norris, albeit it has since been revealed his MCL35M sustained floor damage that "cost a considerable amount of downforce" according to team principal Andreas Seidl after being hit early on by AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly.
Prior to that incident, Ricciardo and Norris had gone wheel to wheel throughout much of the first lap before the safety car put an end to their duel.
“I forgot about that,” said Riccardo when reminded after the race. “That was good fun. I think he was about half a car in front when the safety car came out, so he got me there.
“Those first few laps, once we got restarted, I think my pace was more comparable to Lando and [Ferrari’s] Charles [Leclerc], but then as the race went on I felt like I was falling back and back.
“I just struggled to push on the tyre and actually then keep it. I felt like I would just cook it. There is still some finessing I can do with the car and learn, probably what sweet spot I’m after in the set-up.
“Imola’s next. Looking at the data we seem decent in the high speed and that flowing nature, so Imola I guess is going to be better for us. I’ll do some homework before then and then come back and do better.”
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