Daniel Ricciardo admits he needs to go back to the drawing board after a "frustrating" practice at the Monaco Grand Prix that included a fiery run-in with rival drivers.
Ricciardo is evidently still trying to find his feet at McLaren after making the switch from Renault for this season, and his early struggles have been in contrast to the form of young teammate, Lando Norris.
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The 21-year-old British driver has already claimed one podium finish and leads Ricciardo in the driver's championship, despite the Aussie being brought to the team as the senior driver.
Ricciardo may have expected that a return to his happy hunting ground at Monaco - where he last won a GP in 2018 and secured the first pole position of his career - would inspire an upturn in form.
However, the early signs haven't been promising for the 31-year-old, who came home 15th in both sessions, well behind his Norris, who was seventh in the first session and sixth in the afternoon.
“I felt that I had confidence, it was just not translating to lap time,” Ricciardo said.
“From behind the wheel it was quite frustrating because I would cross the line and think it had been a decent lap, and it was like you are P12 or P15, and even at one stage P17.
“So (it is) frustrating because it is a long way off. There is a lot of time to find. Luckily we have tomorrow off, but right now it is like, yeah, trying to figure out where all the time is.
“The second sector was my weakest one, and that is Turn 5, 6, all the low-speed. It is a bit surprising why I am losing so much there. I’ll get into the data and have a look.”
Ricciardo's frustrations got the better of him at one point when Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc - who topped the second practice session - got in his way on one of the laps.
“I don’t know what the f*** the Ferrari’s doing,” he said over team radio.
“That’s Leclerc,” his garage replied.
Ricciardo then reportedly stuck a finger up at Sebastian Vettel as the Aston Martin driver also went past.
The Aussie's teammate had no such struggles, with Norris bubbling after grabbing sixth spot in the second practice session.
“Today has been a good day,” Norris said. “I was comfortable from the beginning, which is very important around here. At the same time the car has been pretty fast. Pretty competitive.
“The people who are ahead of us we knew would be ahead of us.
“But comparing to the rest we seem pretty good. I am comfortable in the car and the car is good. I have some things I want to improve for tomorrow. But all in all it was a good day, better than I expected.”
Norris touched on what he thought might have been the issue with Ricciardo during a press conference before practice.
“Daniel is very, very fast when he has a car around him, and when everything’s suited,” the Brit said.
“But as soon as there’s a couple of problems, just as most drivers do, he tends to lose that bit of confidence.
“Then you just struggle a little bit more. I don’t think that’s just with him.
“That’s just something that some drivers have more than others. It’s a confidence thing.
“From what I’ve seen so far, he wants a car that really suits him, maybe that little bit more.”
Ferrari star dominates on home track
Practice saw home-town hero Leclerc speed from last to first to lead a stunning Ferrari one-two in a red-flagged second Monaco practice.
The 23-year-old lapped the metal-fenced layout with a best time of one minute 11.684 seconds in Thursday's afternoon session.
Leclerc managed only four laps in the morning before being sidelined by a gearbox problem that left him bottom of those timesheets.
Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz was second fastest, 0.112 slower, with Mercedes' seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton third as Formula One returned to Monaco after two years' absence due to COVID-19.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen, 14 points adrift of Hamilton after four races, was fourth fastest.
It was the first time Ferrari had led a practice session since Sebastian Vettel, now at Aston Martin, was fastest in Hungary last July.
The afternoon session was stopped five minutes early after Mick Schumacher hit the barriers sideways at Massenet and parked up after going through the tunnel, with the Haas needing to be removed.
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