O'Connell was handed the captaincy after O'Driscoll failed to recover from his hamstring tear in time for the trip to Paris - and the Lions centre is a tough act to follow.
Ireland's only defeat in nine matches with O'Driscoll in charge occurred in last year's Grand Slam decider against England and that run includes victories against France and Australia.
O'Driscoll was also inexperienced in leadership terms when he was first given the job in 2002 - he stepped in for the injured Keith Wood - and O'Connell believes he can learn from his example.
"I have spoken to Brian since being made skipper, but it's all happened so quickly. Brian was still in contention to play until Tuesday evening when he ruled himself out," he said.
"He was put in the same position as me. He didn't have much experience and maybe wasn't expecting it. I can learn a lot from him. The way he handled it was brilliant.
"He's been one of the most successful captains in a long time. I have a lot to learn from him and I'll try and keep him near to me until we leave for Paris."