McLaren boss Zak Brown says Daniel Ricciardo has no excuses not to improve his performance, insisting the Aussie's progress will be crucial to his team's chances of holding on to P3 in the Constructors' standings.
Ricciardo's results with McLaren have so far fallen well short of expectations as the 31-year-old has struggled to adapt to his new outfit's car.
While his McLaren teammate Lando Norris has scored 101 points in nine races and currently sits fourth in the Drivers' championship, Ricciardo's tally amounts to just 40 points.
Norris' 2021 track record includes three podiums while the Aussie's best result is a trio of sixth-place finishes at Imola, Barcelona and at Paul Ricard.
But beyond the results, Ricciardo's underperformance relative to Norris has been significant, a fact that has surprised him and his team insists Brown.
"He is definitely getting closer and his race pace is stronger than his qualifying pace at the moment. I think it shows how good Lando is," Brown said ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.
"(Lando) has shown he’s an awesome racing driver so I think Daniel’s up against tough competition.
"I think we are surprised, he’s surprised that he’s not nearer Lando’s pace. But the good news is everyone´s working very hard, everyone knows where we need to improve.
"Daniel knows where he needs to improve, so there’s no excuses, just hard work ahead of us.
"And I hope he gets on top of it because we need two cars constantly in the front if we’re going to hold onto third in the championship."
McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl says he crews are focused on improving Ricciardo's pace on Saturdays.
"We continue to work hard together with the team over the last one and a half weeks to make the next step also on Saturday," said Seidl.
"I’m quite optimistic. It’s not far away until we have Daniel back also on Saturdays, as we all know from the past, and then the integration process is history."