F1: McLaren launch car for new season
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Seven-time Formula One race winner Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that he feels like ‘the old guy’ at McLaren alongside 21-year-old team-mate Lando Norris, likening the situation to his final years at Red Bull with young superstar Max Verstappen. Ricciardo will race for McLaren this season after penning a two-year contract to replace Carlos Sainz, who has joined Ferrari after Sebastian Vettel’s departure.
The Australian will be hoping to improve on his previous showings this year after calling time on a largely unsuccessful spell with Renault.
Ricciardo joined the French outfit hoping to lead them back to the front of the grid, but could only manage a couple of podium finishes in 38 races with the team.
However, he now has the potential to fight for regular silverware with McLaren, who sealed a highly impressive third-placed finish in last year’s Constructors’ Championship standings.
New team-mate Norris has established himself as one of the finest young drivers in the sport since making his debut in 2019, and will undoubtedly have his sights set on winning a tough season-long battle with Ricciardo in order to make a huge statement against a driver of proven race-winning quality.
Ricciardo claimed at Monday’s McLaren season launch that he will be looking to learn from the talented youngster in order to settle in quickly, joking that the ten-year age gap between the pair is making him feel like an old timer.
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“So obviously, reserve driver with Lando, I think he’ll bring a lot to the team,” Ricciardo quipped. “Sorry, trying to be funny!
“I feel like I’m stepping back into what happened with Ocon and with Max. I’m the old guy now.
“I’ll certainly look to Lando and learn from him with the team. It’s his third year with McLaren now, so I think certainly.
“In testing, we only get three days total. So the days I’m out of the car, I’ll certainly be listening closely and trying to learn as much as I can.”
One of the main reasons behind Ricciardo’s decision to leave Verstappen and Red Bull was to realise his ambition of becoming the number one driver for a team elsewhere on the grid.
However, while he led Renault’s efforts in 2019 and 2020, it appears as though he will stand on an equal footing with Norris at McLaren, much like the British hopeful did when he was introduced to partner Sainz two seasons ago.
Ricciardo admitted his struggles with integrating into the off-track advisory role expected of him, stressing that he is working towards becoming more of a team player ahead of the new campaign.
When quizzed on any challenges he has been faced with so far at McLaren, he said: “I think fitting in, in terms of feeling like you’re part of the team.
“Being integrated, not only into the driving side, but into the engineering side and the strategy. It’s kind of like feeling like you’re sitting in the room with a voice and with enough knowledge that what you say will be taken on board.
“I think that integration into all areas of the race team, that’s probably got a lot more power than just being the driver and only the driver.
“That’s probably the most important, but it’s also the most difficult thing to get going.”
Ricciardo and Norris will be hoping to get off to a positive start in 2021 at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 28.
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