Daniel Ricciardo says he is having to learn to “accept defeat” against Formula 1 teammate Lando Norris while he continues to get up to speed at McLaren.

In his second race for McLaren following his winter switch from midfield rivals Renault, Ricciardo could only manage sixth place as Norris went on to claim the second podium of his F1 career with a sublime drive to third.

The 31-year-old admits he is still learning to trust McLaren’s 2021 MCL35M F1 car and until he gets fully confident, he knows Norris is likely to hold the upper hand.

“On paper the result looks all right but I wasn’t fast,” Ricciardo conceded.

“A bit like most of the weekend. Lando got a podium and had for sure stronger pace for at least a majority of the race. On the one side that is really positive, but on my side I need to figure out not what is going wrong, just what I can do better.

“I don’t want to be too hard on myself, but for sure I’m going to accept defeat for the moment. And just work and see what I can improve.”

Such was Norris’ pace advantage over Ricciardo that the Australian was forced to play the team game when he was told to let his faster teammate through into clean air on Lap 16.

Following a mid-race red flag and restart after Valtteri Bottas and George Russell’s massive crash, Norris was ultimately able to finish 27 seconds ahead of Ricciardo.

“I cannot let my ego or pride get in the way of the moment,” Ricciardo said. “I had enough laps and then I started to struggle with the right front tyre with some graining and I could not lift my pace.

“The team gave me enough of a chance and I could not get more out of it. Lando was the quicker car and you are never happy. But of course I was happy to abide by the rules because it made sense.

“I don’t want to bring any negative attitude into the team. It is just [about] what I need to do to improve."

The results will show that Ricciardo has outqualified Norris twice from two attempts so far this year, but that isn't a true reflection of the performance both drivers have been able to extract from their cars. During qualifying at Imola, Norris' Q3 effort would have been good enough for P3 on the grid - some four-tenths up on Ricciardo - had it not been deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 9. 

Norris' carried his pace advantage over into the race with Ricciardo acknowledging that his teammate was “definitely quicker". Despite that, Ricciardo was keen to take the positives from the fact McLaren has been able to finish on the podium so early in the season.

“I never really felt that I had that pace, probably all weekend, it was probably a result of the whole weekend and not being quick enough,” he explained.

“On the positive side, one of the cars is on the podium, and in the second race of the year I think that is really encouraging. The potential of the cars there.

“From my side I just need to figure it out. I’ll be hard on myself to learn, but I’m not going to beat myself up. I leave this weekend with a positive outlook. I would much rather see Lando in third then in 15th.

“Sixth is probably the best we can do for a while. So there certainly are some encouraging signs, and congratulations to them, they have been strong all weekend. I’ll keep working.

“I have to forget a little bit of pride and actually have a look at what I can improve,” he added. “I’m definitely in a productive mindset and not in a defeated mindset.

“I certainly see the positives and for the team as well. In the second race to get a podium already is a good start.”

Ricciardo likened his early bid to get up to pace to his former Renault teammate Esteban Ocon’s initial struggles as he returned from a year on the F1 sidelines in 2020, though he is confident he’ll reach 100 percent sooner rather than later.

“In a few months I will probably look back at the start of the season and not be so stressed about it,” he explained. “There are so many races, but in the first two I have been a bit off the pace.

“Of course I would love to do better at the moment.

"If you’re used to the car in a bit familiar, even last year Ocon, we know he is a fast driver, but it was hard for him to match my pace through a lot of the qualifying’s last year.

“It shows that that extra year I had in the car at Renault was beneficial. We are starting to see that now.”