Daniel Ricciardo has said that he is happy with his eighth-place finish at Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where he scored points at a track that McLaren F1 Team admit they struggled with the car’s package at. The Australian also opened up on the team orders that were instructed during the race, in order to maximise the result.
The number three driver explained that he was faster than his team-mate, Lando Norris, during the opening stint, but slower in the second.
“I’m happy to have scored some points, obviously for the team and for myself – it’s been a while. It was an eventful race with split strategies, so at the beginning I was a bit quicker than Lando on the Hard tyre, and there were some team orders, and then at the end he was quicker on the Hard and there were further team orders.”
McLaren opted to stay out on track during the Virtual Safety Car period caused by Carlos Sainz Jr’ retirement on Lap 10, giving them better track position. Ricciardo showed more pace than Norris, and was slowly coming under pressure from the Scuderia AlphaTauri car of Pierre Gasly behind. The Frenchman was able to overtake the McLaren driver when Norris came into the pits.
Ricciardo was able to jump his team-mate and led the Briton throughout the second stint. McLaren initially considered letting Norris pass Ricciardo to attempt an overtake on Fernando Alonso ahead, returning the place if he was unable to do so. However, despite showing more pace, the papaya-coloured team told both cars to hold position for a solid eighth and ninth-place finish.
“Ultimately, I don’t think we were quick enough to challenge Fernando, as even if we got close on the straight, he was just so quick. So, obviously we’ve got to try and take a bit of drag out the car,” says Ricciardo. “That was our Achilles’ heel here this weekend – but otherwise, I think we maximised our result. I’m happy to have had a smoother weekend.”
“I think today was the best we could achieve” – Lando Norris
With drag being an issue for McLaren this weekend, Norris was happy with his finishing position and believes eighth and ninth is the best the Woking-based team was able to score on a track with long straights that require low drag.
“I’m as happy as I can be with that, we just got unlucky with a couple of positions as a result of others boxing under the VSC, which happens in Baku,” says the number four driver, “It’s just a case of different strategies.”
Regardless of their struggles, Norris says the pace of the car in the race was “strong”.
“So, we lost out a little bit on that, but the pace was good. We found it difficult to overtake with our package here, but the actual pace of the car was strong. I think today was the best we could achieve, all things considered.“
“But of course, we want more, so we’ll keep working on our weaknesses and aim for a better performance next time out in Montreal,” the twenty-two year old concluded.
Formula 1 returns to Canada this weekend, just a week after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix; after two years off the calendar as a result of COVID-19. McLaren will be hoping to score more points in Montreal as they fight for the ‘best of the rest’ position in the championship.