Lando Norris has revealed that changes to the McLaren MCL35M over the winter meant he needed to adjust his driving stye to get the most out of the new car in Bahrain.
Norris had a successful start to the new season, finishing Friday practice season quickest behind Max Verstappen. Although he was out-qualified by his teammate Daniel Ricciardo on Saturday he went on to claim fourth in Sunday's race, three places ahead of the Australian.
Norris said that he'd needed to find a way to adjust his approach to the car so that he wasn't overdriving as had been the case before.
"I feel like I've had to drive too much like the past couple of years," he admitted in comments reported by Motorsport.com this week. "Especially in qualifying. That had negative effects, and it isn't as good.
Norris believed that although he performed well in qualifying, "I felt like I'm punishing myself with some of the things I'm doing with the car."
After two seasons alongside Carlos Sainz, Norris says that having a new team mate to benchmark himself against and learn from was proving beneficial to his development as a driver.
"Daniel is new to the car, there are some differences with the car this year and how you have to drive it," Norris said. "At points his driving style is better for it and is more suited for it."
Norris acknowledged that he had been able to get an overnight boost in his race pace in Bahrain by studying data from Ricciardo.
"After understanding some more I felt like I could already put it into practice [during the race] and I was gaining in those areas that I was losing out on.
"Not just how to learn from Daniel because I don't think that's the point of it, but still focusing on myself in terms of race pace, an area which wasn't very good a couple of years ago.
"How we've had to drive the car the last two seasons is kind of going away - in a good way," he added. "That's something I need to adjust to a little bit because the car is different this year.
"There's room for improvement from my side, more in understanding how to drive this car," he continued. "I felt like I really did a good job so I'm very happy with it."
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl certainly felt that Norris had made "the next step" in terms of race performance last weekend, and said that he wasn't at all surprised.
"It's something we ought to expect from a young driver, especially in his first years, to make these steps because that’s how you become a top guy in this sport," he commented.