Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo says he’s still trying to adapt his driving style to get the best out of his McLaren, six races into the season.

The 31-year-old has endured a difficult time since switching from Renault, unable to consistently match the pace of his much younger teammate Lando Norris.

Ricciardo hasn’t finished better than sixth this season, and is down in 10th spot in the championship with 26 points. Norris, by contrast, has finished fifth or better in five of the six races, including two podiums, and is fourth in the title race with 66 points.

The Australian’s season hit a low point in Monaco, where he finished only 12th and endured the indignity of being lapped by Norris.

In an interview with the official F1 website, Ricciardo said he knew straight away that the McLaren was “different” but initially assumed time in the car would allow him to adapt quickly.

“The car is different enough, you need to work a little harder at it, it hasn’t so far come just by circulating and doing laps,” he said. “I’ve had to adapt a few things with my driving style to help the car. I’m still trying to get on top of that.

“I’m just focused a bit more on me now. But yeah, I felt early on it was quite a different car. Different not being bad, different being – ‘I’ve got my work cut out’.”

Ricciardo, along with other drivers who have switched teams, has been at a particular disadvantage this season because of rule changes to the floor of the cars, designed to reduce the downforce, as well as a reduction of time the cars are on track.

Ricciardo and Norris had just one and a half days each in the McLaren prior to the start of the season, while practice times at each race have also been reduced.

“Chatting with other drivers it is a bit challenging for everyone and maybe that is amplified because of my switch in team and also the uniqueness of this car,” said Ricciardo.

“There was a bit of realisation that OK, mileage wise – and Fridays (practice) are shorter – we may be in race six but in a previous season maybe that’s only race two or three.”

Despite the pace gap to the highly-rated Norris, Ricciardo is a glass half-full man even if he’s trailing the 21-year-old at the moment.

“It shows there is the pace there and if I get it right then there’s podiums available in certain races, so that’s encouraging,” he said.

“I don’t look at it as a negative. It makes me want to be better. I’ve always said I do want to see if I’m the best so having a strong team mate will help and it shows some of my weaknesses as well.

“That’s where I can work and become an even more complete driver. I’m certainly not looking at it as a threat or negative – and I’m not bitter.”

The Australian concedes that McLaren won’t be challenging for the title this year, and he won’t be losing any sleep over a minor place in the championship battle.

But with a complete overhaul of the rules set to shake up the running order in 2022, he’s intent on making sure he’s ready to take advantage.

“Obviously, you want the result today, but I’m not getting too carried away and ultimately, we’re not in a championship season this year, so what is there to lose? Maybe a fifth place, maybe an eighth,” Ricciardo said.

“I’d rather get everything in order and if next year is a season for us to fight for a title, then I want to be tip top for then.”

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