Daniel Ricciardo believes the atmosphere at Zandvoort for the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985 has made it more like a music festival than a race meeting.
The circuit has made its long-awaited return to the calendar this season after seeing its comeback postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After the opening day of running, Ricciardo said: “It’s really cool. The crowd as well makes it pretty exciting, there’s music and it feels like a festival. It’s only Friday, so I am looking forward to the next two days.”
McLaren started strongly in practice but changes made between FP1 and FP2 sent the Australian off-course and left him languishing in 15th place, with team-mate Lando Norris eighth.
Despite that, Ricciardo is confident his engineers can steer him back in the right direction for Saturday’s qualifying session.
“This morning it was pretty good, we hit the ground running and were relatively comfortable straight away," added Ricciardo.
“We made some changes and they didn’t work. You want to be quick, it’s always easier when you’re quick in practice, but [I am] not too concerned. We will find the direction to go tonight and be back on the pace tomorrow.”
Norris - Zandvoort simulations match real life
Learning how to set up on a new track is not easy, with simulators used not only for the drivers to learn the circuit but also for the engineers to predict car performance and try to optimise the set-up before arriving at the track.
Norris said: “From what we had on the simulator to what we have in real life is relatively similar, which is a good thing and we have done a good job.
“It’s always tricky because with the simulator you don’t feel the g-force, especially turns seven, eight and nine, constantly turning right.
"There’s punishment on the front left tyre, physically you start to feel it quite a bit, and it’s extremely quick, so you don’t have that sensation in the simulator.
“It’s a bit of a shock, the first few laps you do, but once you get into it, it is just a cool feeling. It’s not an easy track, for sure. Tough to put a lap together, tough physically, so a good challenge but I think a good first day.
“[There are] definitely some things to work on. We looked good in FP1 but then on the soft tyre we didn’t seem to be quite as strong, so [there are] definitely some things to work on for quali.”
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