Daniel Ricciardo will get his first experience of a McLaren Formula 1 car when he joins Lando Norris in shaking down the new MCL35M at Silverstone on Tuesday.
New signing Ricciardo, who joins McLaren from Renault, and third-year driver Norris are both scheduled to drive at Silverstone.
McLaren is expected to use both its permitted promotional events to shake down its new Mercedes-powered car this week.
It is the only team changing engine supplier for 2021, which makes these so-called ‘filming days’ more valuable to the team than most and explains why both are being used before pre-season testing begins on March 12 in Bahrain.
Promotional events are limited to 100km of running, using non-race-spec Pirelli tyres.
The shakedown will allow McLaren to evaluate the installation of the Mercedes engine and how it has packaged the new design within its revised car, which is based on the Renault-powered MCL35.
Mercedes recently admitted to “issues” with its 2021 engine design but said it had fixes planned in time for the opening race.
However, McLaren technical director James Key said that the team has done “some full-scale testing on a dyno and that’s been completely problem-free”.
“It ran OK for us, but it was a systems test predominantly,” Key added.
The shakedown will also give Ricciardo an early opportunity to adjust to McLaren’s trackside processes and make any seating or steering wheel adjustments well before testing begins.
Ricciardo has already undertaken several meetings at the McLaren Technology Centre as the team carries out its plan to make the Aussie feel like he has worked there for a long time by the time he competes in his first grand prix as a McLaren driver.
New season. New lid. 🔥🙌
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) February 14, 2021
“It’s great to have finally joined the team after what feels like an age since we confirmed it last May,” said Ricciardo.
“I’m thrilled to be a McLaren driver and super-keen to get started. McLaren has been on an awesome journey over the last few years, and I’m looking forward to helping the team maintain this positive momentum.
“I’ve been spending the last few weeks here in the UK getting fully integrated into the team so that we’re as prepared as possible for the start of the season.”
Ricciardo and Norris are expected to split driving duties when McLaren conducts its filming days this week.
The new team-mate pairing has been regularly hailed by McLaren as one of the most exciting in F1.
Team boss Andreas Seidl said Norris has become “one of the fastest and most exciting racing drivers on the grid” while seven-time grand prix winner Ricciardo “represents our next step as a team and is a validation of the progress we’re making”.
“Together, Lando and Daniel comprise one of the most competitive driver line-ups in the sport,” said Seidl.
“With these two behind the wheel of the MCL35M, we know we’ll have a team that gives total commitment in the pursuit of on-track performance as we head into the 2021 season.”
Ricciardo: McLaren becoming a title contender
Ricciardo has joined McLaren on what he’s revealed to be a three-year deal.
That should give him at least two seasons with the team in F1’s new era, which begins next year with all-new technical rules.
“It’s certainly enough time to get this thing going,” he said.
“Obviously, I feel I’m coming here with a bunch of momentum behind the team as well. Not only results, but I think some really good stability in the team and the infrastructure.
“When I talked to McLaren a couple years ago back in 2018, I don’t think Andreas was there yet. James Key wasn’t. There was still quite a few moving parts and I think ultimately not only were the results not quite there on track yet but they were still trying to figure out their own structure.
“They’ve really established that now, and I’m basically just fitting into the puzzle, as opposed to trying to put it all together.”
Ricciardo said F1’s shifting landscape, which includes a cost cap being implemented as of this season, combined with McLaren’s momentum is what “really excites me” about the team’s trajectory.
“They’ve got more backing as well, at the end of last year, some more investment,” he said. “They’re expanding.
“I think they’re doing what it takes to now be a real contender in the championship.”