McLaren wants Ricciardo to embrace 'box of secrets' culture - The Race
Formula 1

McLaren wants Ricciardo to embrace ‘box of secrets’ culture

Dec 22 2020
By Lucy Morson

McLaren expects Daniel Ricciardo to embrace the collaborative culture that made the team’s 2019/20 driver pairing Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz comfortable sharing their “box of secrets” with each other to maximise car development.

Norris and Sainz formed an all-new McLaren F1 line-up at the start of the 2019 season following the departure of Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.

The pairing formed a close relationship at the start and has proved popular with fans, with the duo’s strong results propelling McLaren to finish third in the 2020 F1 constructors championship – the team’s best performance in eight years.

It was announced before the start of the 2020 campaign that Sainz would depart McLaren at the end of the year to replace Aston Martin-bound Sebastian Vettel at Ferrari, with Ricciardo making the move to McLaren from Renault in 2021.

McLaren Racing and Technical directors Andrea Stella and James Key paid tribute to Norris and Sainz’s ability to work together in order to identify weaknesses with the car, allowing the team to make massive improvements in performance which ultimately kept them ahead of fierce midfield rivals Renault and Racing Point.

Carlos Sainz Lando Norris McLaren F1 2020

“The level of collaboration between the two of them has been incredibly high. It’s one of the reasons they are so evenly matched on track,” said Stella.

“When there is an open and transparent dialogue between team-mates, it elevates their performance because they can crosscheck with each other and quickly identify the weak points of the car or find the best approach to a corner.

“This has been possible due to the personal qualities of Carlos and Lando, and, I hope, the environment we have built within the team which encourages openness and trust.

“Daniel is not Carlos and his relationship with Lando will be different” :: Andrea Stella

“It means the drivers feel comfortable opening their box of secrets, rather than keeping that box closed so as not to give away any advantage to their team-mate.”

Key added: “It’s allowed us to pin down the real issues and weaknesses with the car.

“This is important because there’s always the risk of falling into a bit of a trap when you have drivers with differing opinions, or their opinions change quite drastically due to the particular challenges of race weekend, such as track characteristics or tyre degradation.

“We’ve not fallen into that trap.”

Daniel Ricciardo Lando Norris McLaren F1 2020

Stella stressed that the key to McLaren’s continued success would be preserving that collaborative culture between the drivers, despite the likelihood of there being a change in dynamic once Ricciardo joins the squad.

“The most important thing from my point of view is that we preserve the conditions that we created to allow that high level of collaboration between Carlos and Lando,” said Stella.

“But it’s not just about preserving those conditions, we may have to adapt them. Daniel is not Carlos and his relationship with Lando will be different. It may be similar, but it will not be the same and we need to be mindful of that and adapt with a view to maintain the standards.

“After two years of racing in F1 and having been so evenly matched with Carlos, Lando has shown that he has all the qualities to become a top driver in the sport.”

Key, who worked with Ricciardo at Toro Rosso in 2012 and 2013, is confident that Ricciardo’s status as an F1 race winner will only serve to further develop Norris and give McLaren one of the strongest driver pairings of the grid.

“He’s [Ricciardo] an excellent driver to work with. He will have accumulated plenty of experience and knowledge since I last worked with him, so I expect he’ll be several steps ahead of where he was back then in terms of what he’ll bring to the team,” said Key.

“He arrives as a proven race winner and is someone who can go toe to toe with the very best drivers. Daniel is very easy to get on with, but he’s hugely determined and that has a positive effect on any team.

“He will be a great reference point for us and, together with Lando, we will have one of the strongest driver pairings in the paddock.”

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