Daniel Ricciardo feels he is already settling into his new surroundings at McLaren quicker than he did during his previous Formula 1 team change to Renault.

The Australian out-qualified Lando Norris but finished seventh and three places behind his teammate on his McLaren debut at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, though it was later discovered that Ricciardo had been hampered by floor damage caused during an early hit from AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly.

It marked a much stronger first race compared to his Renault debut at the 2019 Australian Grand Prix and Ricciardo believes that is in part thanks to how quickly he has been able to adapt to life at McLaren.

Ricciardo’s McLaren switch was complicated by a lack of pre-season testing but the 31-year-old revealed that an intense integration programme over the winter has helped speed up the process of settling in. 

“They’ve worked me pretty hard for the last few months,” said Ricciardo. “I think they’ve done a pretty outstanding job to get me up to speed and to educate me as much as possible with the team.”

Asked how long it takes a driver to get fully comfortable with a new team, Ricciardo replied: “It’s hard to really know. From my previous experience with Renault, I remember specifically that it was race three before I felt that I had done a decent weekend.

“I’m not saying I was fully up to speed by race three, but that was like I’d finally got over that hurdle. If I think back to Melbourne [2019] with Renault, I do feel a little more comfortable and prepared here today.

“It probably helps that there is much less distraction here than what there is in Melbourne for my home race, but I do feel like I’ve started a step in front. But to know when I’ll be nailing a perfect lap, hopefully not too long, but I can’t answer that at the moment.”

And Ricciardo has already left a huge impression on McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, who believes the positive personality his new driver exudes will prove an invaluable asset to the Woking outfit.

“I liked a lot with everything I have seen in terms of his speed in qualifying and the race in his entire career - and that was the reason why I wanted to get him onboard,” Seidl explained.

“In addition, he’s a great character, a great personality, who brings a lot of positivity to both within the team which is important in this sport - it’s a team sport, it’s a people sport and these heroes of our sport are who everyone looks up to, also within the team.

“After a bad day, if the guys in the garage see that there’s a guy coming in, a driver, our hero who’s positive and motivated and firing everyone up to get going again, and that obviously very important as well.

“But again, the most important thing is performance on track and I am very happy to have him onboard. I am sure he will do a lot of great results for us in the future.”