March 22, 2023

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Is a difficult car in F1 a problem for the driver or the team? How much does the rider decide? Study on the example of “McLaren”

One partner destroyed the other because of the difference in approaches.

For a long time in F-1, the career of a star racer did not fall as quickly as the winner of the 8th Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo , died out in 2022. Recently, one of the fastest pilots on the planet, a master of overtaking and a shadow contender for the title, who kept the level of Verstappen – and in the middle of last year, McLaren bought out his expensive contract (from 10 to 17 million dollars, depending on the insider), and No. 3 himself with a burnout settled on the role of a reservist in Red Bull. It seems that this is a ticket to the “end of a career” station: although Dan is only 33, he himself has not negotiated with the middle peasants or outsiders, and strong teams will not call him after such a year.

Why did McLaren break off cooperation? The thing is in these statistics against partner Lando Norris – the young Englishman simply defeated Riccardo in the first half of the joint season:

What’s the matter? Dan explained everything by difficulties with adaptation – McLaren built a difficult car, the Australian failed to make friends with her:

“[Usually] you drive up to the turn, and mentally already at the exit of it. But often I thought: “I’m in the braking zone”, “now I’m turning”, “now I’m stepping on the gas.” It’s like I’m driving through a turn in five stages, although I need one. Sometimes I tried to trust myself and keep it simple, and I thought at the apex, “What the #####? Why am I here? Why do I have such a trajectory?

Why, then, did Lando perform much better? Riccardo has a couple of thoughts on this as well:

“I watch Lando’s onboards and sometimes I think: “Okay, I see what he does, but I can’t do it myself. The guy is good. If I say otherwise, it means I can’t lose.

The second is happiness in ignorance. He piloted only this car. Of course, the McLarens were different. But he did not play for another team. I’m sure Lando got used to some elements of the car.”

By the way, Norris has similar complaints about the MCL36, like Riccardo – the technique really turned out to be extremely difficult:

“This car is not easy to drive. More precisely, it is better to say “not simple”. You need to bite into and deal with its techniques and characteristics. At the beginning, my aerobatic style from last year turned out to be exactly the opposite of what I needed. So even though it was a McLaren and we were suffering from the same old restrictions, the method of driving was very different. I had to study everything again.

I talk to the team, and my comments are exactly the same as those of Riccardo. You expect the car to turn like that, and you act in a certain way. But it doesn’t always work out: sometimes you brake less hard and the car turns more, there is more grip, other times you brake harder and the car works the same, but sometimes it’s very confusing. In one turn it is necessary to fly one way, in the next – differently. You change the style of aerobatics in every turn.

On one lap you think you understand how to drive, and on the next you act in exactly the same way, and for some reason the car reacts differently. It seems that you hit the brakes the same way, you turn the same way, and in the end you miss the apex by three meters.

In each individual turn, you need to re-learn the car. It does not happen that you come to the track and know how approximately it needs to be passed. No, on each track, you choose a different approach for each turn. That’s what makes the task so difficult: you don’t drive the car on the track, but you drive the car around corners. And it’s not great.”

So what went wrong? Why did one rider succeed and another not? It seems to be about the approach of “personal adaptation versus waiting for a click, help from a team or a good car” – an existential theme for any guy in F-1.

Hike Riccardo

When Dan’s parting with the McLaren was officially confirmed, No. 3 began to speak honestly about the sore. Moreover, by the end of the season, along with a decrease in the number of options for continuing a career, the level of frankness increased – and some phrases came out that directly hinted at Riccardo’s point of view on his failure.

“Of course, I understand that I am not perfect – I have flaws. Unfortunately, this machine exposed them. This experience teaches modesty: I have something to work on. At the same time, there is certainty: give me a car to win with and I will ### ### win!

Not to say that I do not want to work on the shortcomings. But I can’t mess with it too much. Rather, the approach is this: to be in a car in which I can show my talent – then I will find a way.

At the same time, I have some – I hate that word, but I have to use it because I can’t put it better – expectations of a Formula 1 car: its ability and potential. Lando has them too, he looks at the onboards and says: “It’s a pity that we can’t do this, the back does not behave the way I want.” However, he did not pilot other machines.

We were constantly doing something. During the weekend we learned new things, it was a step forward. But then it turned out that one more step needed to be taken, or new information appeared. That is, we made progress, but there were new obstacles. In fact, every stage had unforeseen difficulties. I thought: okay, the car is set up well, this style of piloting is starting to suit her. But then it turned out that it was just an old hamster wheel.