Rivalries between teammates in the spotlight on the Formula 1 circuit

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo isn’t the only one to be one step behind his team-mate in 2022.

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New car, new season, same old problem for Daniel Ricciardo.

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Since joining McLaren last year, the outgoing Australian has struggled to keep pace with team-mate Lando Norris despite claiming the team’s first victory in a decade when he claimed his eighth Formula win. 1 at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

Much of Ricciardo’s problems in 2021 stemmed from the car’s braking characteristics which seemed to dampen rather than amplify his strengths. This year, the McLaren still does not seem to agree with Ricciardo, who arrived at the Canadian Grand Prix with 15 points against 50 for his teammate.

“Some things the car did last year, I think it’s doing again this year, if that makes sense then it’s still trying to get the upper hand,” Ricciardo said.

“I like the pressure. It’s a good platform to play on and that’s also why I signed up for this. I like it. Success after wrestling always tastes a bit sweeter, it so that’s what I’m looking forward to.

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The fundamental difference between the 2021 car and the one on track this year is the way it produces downforce. Long story short, last year’s car did it by using countless aero bits on top, while this year’s version uses low air pressure underneath that sucks it down the track of race.

For Ricciardo, it’s about more than that changes.

“Daniel has a great reputation – if you look over the years he’s been a really brave person on the brakes when overtaking and that’s when he was able to apply maximum attack on the brakes and carry some of it around the bend,” said the McLaren executive. Technical Director James Key.

“I think there are probably aspects of this car that make it harder to do, and it’s also heavier cars than last year.”

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Ricciardo isn’t the only one falling behind his team-mate in 2022.

Early championship leader Charles Leclerc clearly outclassed Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz in the first eight races, taking six poles and two wins. In the four races they both completed, Leclerc crossed the finish line three times and the only time he didn’t was due to a missed strategy call by the team.

“It’s not been an easy year for me, that’s no secret,” said Sainz, who was 33 points behind Leclerc heading into Sunday’s Canadian Grand Prix.

“I don’t feel as comfortable as last year, when I was neck and neck with Charles. I feel like I’m making progress and I think it will come sooner or later.

At first glance, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton also appears to be on the back foot when compared to new teammate George Russell. The newcomer finished in the top 5 in the eight races before Canada and amassed 37 more points. Hamilton has four top-5s.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff, who has called the 2022 Mercedes an “s-tbox” on several occasions, believes the raw results don’t tell the story.

“It’s a fundamental automotive problem; the drivers are on the same level,” said Wolff.

“I don’t think you can say that just because George outscored Lewis in points that there is an overperformance. I don’t think you have better control of the car.

On the other side of the equation is Sergio Perez, who joined Red Bull Racing last season and got into a car that didn’t suit his style as well as his new team-mate – and future 2021 F1 champion. – Max Verstappen.

So far in 2022, Perez’s pace compares well to the reigning world champion.

“This year I can feel that from the first practice session I can start working on the car instead of working on how to get the most out of the car, so that’s a huge difference.” said Perez.

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“When I go into qualifying I’m much better prepared and similarly when I go into the race I think, ‘yes, we have a good platform.’ ”

Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen, who received a last-minute call to replace Nikita Mazepin after the Russian was jettisoned following his home country’s invasion of Ukraine, is another who really seems capable of getting the most out of the 2022 car.

Magnussen became the star of the early races, equaling the Haas team’s best finish of fifth in the season opener in Australia, then posting the team’s best qualifying with fourth in the Grand Prix in ‘Emilia-Romagna. Meanwhile, his teammate, second-year driver Mick Schumacher, was left useless ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Danish driver attributed it all to simply loving his car.

“It’s nothing special, the car is good so I’m kind of driving the best of the car,” he said.

“They feel a bit different: they turn slower, they don’t brake as late, but they’re fun to drive and we can push them better. It makes it more fun in my mind.

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