After a disappointing qualifying for Lando Norris and the McLaren F1 Team, who had his lap time deleted after qualifying in third, the British driver more than made up for this on a chaotic rain-soaked race day at the 2021 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix taking advantage of the soft tyres at the final safety car restart to overtake Charles Leclerc and gain the final podium position.
Lando Norris was really happy to achieve his second podium in Formula 1 after a very well executed race from both the team and himself. Even though the British driver made some great decisions but it wasn’t plain-sailing throughout the whole race – getting a poor start and having some minor contact with some other cars due to the poor visibility caused by the spray.
“Obviously very happy to get a podium. A very well-executed race from the team and from myself. I think I drove very well – I made a lot of good decisions – but it wasn’t easy. The beginning of the race was pretty tough. A bit of contact here and there, not a perfect start but I kept my head cool.”
Norris kept his cool throughout the race and managed to make the most of opportunities that come from red flags and safety cars, so keeping all this in mind Norris began to make his way back through the field.
“I kept focused throughout because sometimes you know you’ve got to expect the red flags and the Safety Cars and think that more opportunities can come towards you later in the race. So, I kept that in mind and solidly came back through.”
The British driver managed to make the most of incidents in front of him which at the end of the day all the drivers are there to take advantage of and then the strategy team made the decision to go onto the soft compound which allowed Norris to pass Leclerc at the safety car restart.
“There were a couple of people crashing and making mistakes ahead of me, which is what we’re here to take advantage of, and then we made a good decision at the end to go onto the Soft tyres and get ahead of Leclerc.”
Norris was so close to finishing in second but unfortunately got passed by a charging Lewis Hamilton towards the end of the race, but despite this it was still a very rewarding Grand Prix for the whole team. The new parts have clearly worked wonders and their hard work at the factory is paying off and making the car quicker every race weekend.
We almost held on to P2 but not quite. It was a tough race, but very rewarding for myself and more importantly for the team, so a big thanks to them for bringing new parts, and working so hard on the car back at the factory to make it better every weekend.”
“I’ve just got to keep working on it and improve” – Daniel Ricciardo
The first few races of the season for Daniel Ricciardo are about embedding himself into the team and getting used to the car and the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix showed that the Australian still needs time – having to let team-mate Lando Norris past as he had superior race pace.
It was one of those races where everything hangs in the balance and no-one really knows what is going to happen. Ricciardo had a good start progressing up to fifth but when the track started to dry out the front right started to grain so it was hard to keep a good pace.
“One of those races where you’ve got rain on the laps to grid and you’re not really sure how it’s going to go. I managed to get a position at the start and was then running in fifth for a bit. Just as the track started to dry I grained the front right, so I couldn’t really keep a good pace.”
At the restart both cars put on the soft compounds to gain positions if there was a standing start, unfortunately this was not the case and it ended up being a very long stint on the soft tyre and it was very hard to manage with Ricciardo struggling with both the front and rear tyres.
“For the restart, we put on the Soft tyre to make the most of a potential standing start. I tried to keep on top of the Soft until the end of this long stint but, just couldn’t really manage it. I think both front and rear tyres I struggled with.”
At the end of the day it wasn’t a fantastic race on Ricciardo’s side but a sixth place combined with Norris’s podium is great for McLaren’s constructors championship hope, this re-affirms the Australians belief that the car is very quick and this can be capitalised on once Ricciardo gets used to the car. For now, he will keep working hard to improve his pace in the McLaren.
“So, certainly not an awesome race, but I think to come home sixth is good for the Constructors’ points with Lando in third. Congrats to Lando, he had a great race and it’s awesome to see the car has the pace. My race pace was nothing too special. I’ve just got to keep working on it and improve.”