The McLaren F1 Team did not maximize their potential during qualification at the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix. Daniel Ricciardo finished in seventh position and Lando Norris only in ninth position at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya circuit.
Norris has had a great start to the season and is in third position in the drivers’ championship The young Briton has a podium finish and has finished “best of the rest” in the other two races.
Norris qualified in ninth position as he was disadvantaged by the blocking incident with Nikita Mazepin in the first qualification session. Norris had to use an extra set of soft compound tyres in the first qualification session as his first flying lap was ruined by Mazepin impeding him at the chicane. The Russian driver was penalized for the incident.
Norris went on to top the first qualification session. But in the final qualification session, Norris had to use a set of used soft compound tyres in his first flying lap and a set of new set of soft compound tyres only on his second flying lap. By then, the track conditions had changed and none of the drivers could improve their lap time.
Norris has all to do in the race with many of his rivals starting in front of him. Norris said: “Not a perfect qualifying today. We were quite unlucky with some traffic in Q1 run one, so that put us on the back foot as we needed to use a second set of tyres when we should’ve been safe.
“I picked up some damage after my first run in Q3, and the final run wasn’t clean either, which was quite important in the end with how much the track was evolving and the wind was changing. I’m not too disappointed, but it is a bit frustrating to start from the position we’re in as it’s a very difficult race to come through and overtake. We know we have a strong car on a Sunday, so we’ll do our best to get some good points.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “I’m still looking at myself and how I can improve, I’m not driving the car perfectly yet”
Daniel Ricciardo has struggled to come to terms with the MCL35M challenger and has not looked at the same level as Norris in the first three races. But the Australian has still outqualified Norris in the first four races(3 to 1).
Ricciardo said: “Overall, a positive day. We did really well to get through Q1 with one set of tyres, which gave us two sets for Q3, but obviously we missed it with the timing and, unfortunately, we couldn’t use them. I do think there’s always a tenth on the table and that could’ve been a P4 if we’d got a really good lap together. But, I don’t want to focus on that.
“Ultimately, I’m still looking at myself and how I can improve, I’m not driving the car perfectly yet. Today was certainly better, but I’ll focus on myself and I know the team will address their part for the Q3 timing. Today was a much better day and we made a really good step from yesterday. So, I’m very happy and thankful that we found some answers and that the updates seem to be working.”