Daniel Ricciardo felt his maiden Formula 1 outing with McLaren went “really smooth” after sampling the MCL35M car for the first time at Silverstone on Tuesday.
Following his winter switch from Renault, seven-time grand prix winner Ricciardo helped unveil McLaren’s new F1 car for the 2021 season on Monday at its factory in Woking.
McLaren opted to give the MCL35M a maiden run-out at Silverstone on Tuesday, using its filming day allocation for a shakedown to ensure all systems were running as expected.
After seeing team-mate Lando Norris complete a run in the morning, Ricciardo turned his first laps in a McLaren F1 car in the afternoon on a greasy and damp Silverstone track.
Although the test was limited to just 17 laps due to the filming day restrictions, Ricciardo was glad for the opportunity to get back up to speed after the winter.
“It feels longer than two months actually!” Ricciardo said.
“It always takes a little bit to get the confidence up. I think as well in these conditions, it’s greasy, they don’t fill you with a lot of confidence after it being a while since being in a car.
“But no, it’s nice. Everything’s run really smooth, we completed what we had to. Really, that’s all you can ask for. I know the more laps I turn, the more confidence and comfortable I’ll feel with this team.”
The initial shakedown in the MCL35M was all the more important for Ricciardo given the limited amount of pre-season testing in 2021, which has been cut to just three days ahead of the new season.
Ricciardo is set to get one-and-a-half days behind the wheel in Bahrain next month, but is confident the team can get everything ready for the opening race of the season.
“Every little bit helps, getting up to speed with the team, going through all the procedures,” Ricciardo said.
“Really the plan is and the target is to get to Bahrain, Sunday afternoon, be on the grid and for there to be no inch of panic. It’s really just about feeling comfortable and familiar with all the crew.
“We’re going through that, trying to go through scenarios that we would face on a race weekend, and yes, we don’t have the atmosphere around us now, but we can certainly try to replicate it and put a little bit of pressure on ourselves.
“McLaren started on the right foot with the fire-up, that was a day early, and first day of running on-track, everything has been smooth.
“You can’t ask for too much more in this part of the season. So everything is firing on the right cylinders now, and we’re all good.”
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