Daniel Ricciardo has claimed McLaren's early-season revival has "exceeded our expectations" after Lando Norris returned the team to the F1 podium at Imola.
McLaren endured a tough second pre-season test in Bahrain as the MCL36 suffered from overheating brakes, an issue that required an interim solution for the opening race at the same venue.
As a result of its problems, Ricciardo and Norris were off the pace over one lap and in the race as they finished a miserable 14th and 15th respectively.
The team, however, quickly got on top of its woes and after a double-points finish in Australia, Norris scored McLaren's first podium of the year in last weekend's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
"After Bahrain, I don’t know if we expected by race three to have the Melbourne we had, so that exceeded our expectations because after Bahrain there was not too much to be optimistic about, at least in the short term," said Ricciardo.
"Anyone that saw me after the [Bahrain] race doing the media and the interviews, some people asked me ‘Why do you look so happy?’.
"I wasn’t, obviously, happy but I was still optimistic because there is still so much to learn with these cars and I knew it could happen quicker than we thought, but still probably not as quick as race three."
McLaren troubles allow for "bigger steps"
With F1 teams working to an all-new technical rulebook this season, it was always expected the cars would evolve significantly across the 23 races.
Although 'surprised' by the pace of McLaren's recovery, Ricciardo added: “The rate of evolution with these cars and the understanding and development is going to keep moving at a pretty fast rate.
"I think when we started quite a bit off, we had more room or bigger steps to gain in a shorter amount of time.
“I think that is partially what has happened as well.”
Additional reporting by Ian Parkes
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