Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo were pleased with double points in F1 French GP, but reckon their race pace was lower than qualifying.
For McLaren, it was a case of déjà vu. Seventh and ninth for Norris and Ricciardo respectively at Paul Ricard after a good qualifying for both. In the case of the Brit, he started from the third row, with an upgraded car but made a poor getaway, losing out to fellow Englishman George Russell and Fernando Alonso.
He subsequently made up a place upon Charles Leclerc’s demise. But overall, a slight lack of pace on race-day compared to qualifying for Norris which was a big pit. After the race had finished, he was seen removing a piece of debris from his car, a small piece of aerofoil. However, this was not an issue for him, it was picked up late in the race but was not a determining factor to his race performance and result.
“I think we achieved everything we should have done, could have done,” said Norris. “Frustrating because I guess after qualifying, our hopes were just pushed up a little bit. I think it was more because I just did a very, very good lap, to be in the middle of Mercedes, and they showed they can almost race for a win”.
“It shows the differences between people’s pace and in quali and races. And for whatever reason, we maybe show a bit more pace in quali. The new tyres, low fuel hides a lot of our issues and problems, and as soon as we get into high fuel, old tyres, just all those issues are exposed, and we’re just quite slow”.
“It definitely goes away the balance we have, the balance which is giving us good lap time and qualifying. I lose a few of those things. And that’s why we struggle more in the race with the front end through the apexes, and stuff like that. We did make some improvements since Friday in understanding the package, it just seems as a general package it loses a bit of performance come Sunday,” summed up Norris.
As he stated, he feels that McLaren are right now more competitive in qualifying spec than longer runs which they are trying to figure out. A week is a quick turnaround and with Hungary next Sunday, Norris did admit that the Hungaroring is a track where practice pace is at this circuit of vital importance and can help on race day as it is a tough track to pass on.
On the other side, it was also a pleasant day for his teammate who for the first time this season scored points in back to back Grands Prix. It had been a tough race too for Ricciardo, who saw at first hand the pace from the two Alpines, who were as it was on home ground but looks like will be McLarens chief rivals in the second part of the season.
“Still certainly tricky out there,” said Ricciardo. “I was playing defence when I want to be on the attack. I tried to hold on to Esteban Ocon for as long as I could, but in the end the Alpines were a bit too quick today. Managed to hold on to the Astons at the end but obviously want to be catching cars not falling back into the hands of the others”.
“I think once we got through like halfway through the stint the others could just keep that pace and I would simply just fall off, just unable to use anymore of… the tyre or the grip. Yes, I don’t feel like I am aggressive on the tyre or anything, just simply can’t hold what the others can,” summed up Ricciardo.
As per above, back to back point finishes for the Aussie who has endured a challenging season thus far, alongside this, it was a tough event for him from a tyre management perspective and utilising maximum performance from his car too. While ninth place may not be what the proven race winner wants, it is a positive step going forward.