Ricciardo struggled to get the most out of the car in the first half of the season, despite being much stronger since the summer break and taking a win at the Italian Grand Prix.
Stella says the team learned from Ricciardo while helping the Australian adapt to the car this year.
“Indeed, it was a learning curve for us,” said Stella. “We’re getting a new driver, a very talented driver, an established driver, and he has problems in some phases of driving.
“For example Lando [Norris], this is the only car he has driven so he doesn’t have many references from other cars.
“Some functions are simply the behavior of the car in F1. But adding a new driver, one with very clear references, helped us understand that we actually needed to improve some of these features. “
Addressing the specific issues, Stella adds, “For example, some of these traits have to do with how sharp the car is when it responds to small steering movements.
“We know that since the first time in 2017, when we put the wide tires on the car, it was very clear that they respond well to small steering interventions.
“And that can be a good feature, if you have a quick 90 degree turn, it’s a good feature. But that usually makes the car more difficult to drive. So we understood that there was work to be done there. And we actually made some adjustments to the car.
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport pictures
“So Daniel switched to the car, but in 2021 part of the car switched to Daniel. Some of the lessons we’ve learned will essentially carry over into next year’s car as much as possible.
“So it was indeed a useful process for McLaren. And actually there was something about the car that was moving towards Daniel. “
Stella said it was no surprise that it took Ricciardo time to get used to the McLaren F1 car.
“There was a lot of work to adapt to the car. And these adjustments take a lot of time because the cars drive fast. In modern F1 you can no longer drive and think, at least since the regulations changed in 2017.
“So it took time and I think reflecting on the summer break would have helped make these changes, the other style that was required, a more natural process.
“But when we talk about our expectation and Daniel’s expectation, we think that more is to come, we still see that there are traces or situations in which this is not yet as natural as we know it. So, [we are] satisfied with the improvement.
“We understand why the trajectory was slow, we understand why we are in a better place now. But we think there is more to come and of course we have to put a lot of work on our feet and just keep doing what we did last month. “