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Ricciardo determined to make fast start to life at McLaren

By Samuel Green

Melbourne, February 16: Australian star Daniel Ricciardo vowed to "close the gap" in the race for Formula One championship glory and the new McLaren driver is refusing to make any excuses.

Ricciardo enters his 11th season in F1 having switched from Renault to McLaren, but the 31-year-old does not expect the transition to hold him back.

Since entering F1, Ricciardo has claimed seven grand prix victories and 31 podium finishes, while he earned fifth place in the drivers' championship during the coronavirus-hit 2020 season.

After moving to McLaren to replace new Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz Jr. and pair up with the returning Lando Norris, Ricciardo has an eye on climbing the ranks.

"What I expect out of myself in 2021 is to really hit the ground running," Ricciardo said.

"Naturally it does take some time to learn a new team, a new car, but I guess I'm going to be hard on myself, not to give myself too much time.

"I think with Renault I was the same. I really wanted to be there by Melbourne, that first race, but naturally it did take a bit of time.

"I don't want to be naive but I also want to make sure I'm just leaving no stone unturned and really by the end of year I've had a big contribution to the team, moving forward and closing the gap."

Ricciardo achieved a pair of third-placed overall finishes in 2014 and 2016 while with Red Bull, his best ever final standings results, and he will need to make giant strides to repeat that standard.

The Perth-native closed the 2020 campaign 95 points off the end-of-season podium, having not been able to record a race win during his two years at Renault.

But the McLaren team did finish third overall in the 2020 Constructors' Championship and, now racing alongside 21-year-old Englishman Norris, Riccardo expects a positive and competitive relationship.

"With Lando [Norris] it's another new team-mate this year," Riccardo said. "This is now his third season with the team. It's funny. I think we’re 10 years apart so I'm obviously a lot older but in McLaren terms he's a lot older than me!

"I think we're going to have a really good relationship on and off the track. I think we both bring a bit of a similar dynamic but from different generations so I think that combination will be quite cool and I think we're going to be equally competitive."

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Story first published: Tuesday, February 16, 2021, 8:40 [IST]
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