Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris reflected on holding off Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, respectively, en-route a 1-2 finish in F1 Italian GP.
McLaren secured first and second position for the first time since 2010 and their first win since 2012. It was a strong run all weekend from both Norris and Ricciardo, with the latter pretty much leading all the race laps after his Lap 1 overtake. For the Australian, it was a welcome return to the top having had a tough since moving from Alpine and being constantly outshone by his young team mate. This weekend went just right.
He was good in practice, qualifying and the sprint race, following it up with a win in a near-perfect weekend. He has had good starts mostly all season long and once the lights went out in F1 Italian GP, he took control and was impressive enough to hold all the front runners off, particularly early on.
“There were some laps where Max pushed up closer but I never really had to properly defend,” said Ricciardo in the press conference. “He was there but I knew if I didn’t make a mistake it was going to be hard for him to, unless he kind of sent a little bit off a Hail Mary, it was going to be tough for him to pass.
“I think where I felt I was a little vulnerable was at the end of that stint, where the tyres were going off, but I believe the others were suffering as well. So in my head I was thinking we were going to be vulnerable in that moment. I pitted and I think everyone else pitted as well, so I think we were all struggling at the same moment.
“And it was then, when we came back out in the lead, then I was like ‘alright, we’ve got this today’, like unless something unfortunate happens we can really win this race. From that moment on it was like….. I think that’s when any last bit of belief you need you top it up and you’re like ‘alright, someone is going to have to take it from me today, because otherwise we’re winning this thing’,” summed up Ricciardo.
It was a slightly tardy start from Max Verstappen to be fair, while Ricciardo made the perfect getaway. There was one or two issues with safety cars, so much so that he was asked to increase his pace after the safety car period. Even Norris had said it on the radio asking for him to increase pace.
“The start, I mean obviously it worked well,” said Ricciardo. “I don’t want to say I did anything different. Obviously every start you do, you try to have the best start possible. I think I made a really good start in Sprint Qualifying and yeah, I guess I just took confidence from that. I tried not to think about Lewis’ bad start from P2…. because sometimes you do get a grid offset, like left side is better than right.
“I just used everything I had on Saturday and that knowledge of executing a good one. And it worked in the race. It didn’t feel that great off the line but I guess having the medium tyre was maybe not as good as a soft, so that was that, and I saw once I got momentum on Max it was crucial.
“From that point I wasn’t sure if I could keep him behind, or what. But just tried to settle into a rhythm. Then, like the race pace, yeah, we knew it was a one-stop. I think there were definitely laps where I was going too slow, so then I would pick it up and just try to find that balance. It was in control,” summed up Ricciardo.
For Norris, it was another podium and a career best result of second place. It was there for him, but after he lost a place on Saturday, he couldn’t recover it on Sunday. And like Sprint Qualifying, he had to defend a lot from Lewis Hamilton. “I don’t know where to start. I think it is incredible,” he said. “To be honest I don’t know what it means to me.
“The main thing it means to me is our resolve as a team. Whether I’m second, third or first, I think the best thing is having that one-two for the team and securing maximum points and it’s just such a cool feeling to be part of this. A bit lost for words in a way but I’m happy for myself, to be here again, to have executed the race the way we did, with the overtakes and the strategy and the defending. But yeah, happy for Daniel and the whole team because it’s a pretty awesome achievement for all of us,” summed up Norris.
While it is a career best of second place, it was not easy, despite running at the sharp end for nearly all the race as well as leading one lap during the pit stops. Norris had to go on the defensive for a good deal of the race too, particular in the early part against Hamilton. Also after safety car re-start, he had to overtake Charles Leclerc.
“I think I had a good warm-up for Hamilton on Saturday with 18 laps trying to defend from him,” said Norris. “I could figure him out quite quickly, where he was going to strong and weak and so on, and he was on the hard tyre, so for the majority of it, I could hold him off reasonably easily but the last two or three laps of the stint, the hard tyre started to come back to him quite a bit or the mediums started to drop away so he actually got past me, he then boxed and we overcut him straight away.
“So, it was just the whole race was stressful, not going to lie. There was not one moment where I thought I could relax and just chill-out a little bit. But that definitely makes it a bit more special, more worthwhile to kind of have to really work for it, and end up in this position to get past Charles as well on the restart, and so on. Yeah, definitely makes it more worthwhile, so a tough race, maybe made a little bit easier in the middle after the pitstops with what happened but it still wasn’t easy with what happened but still wasn’t easy from that point on, we still had to work quite hard for it,” summed up Norris.
It has been a long time, far too long in fact. And it is hard to believe that it is nine years since their last victory but rest assured McLaren seems to be back. For Ricciardo and Norris, it was also a 1-2 on credit despite the crash between Verstappen and Hamilton.
The story was written by Neil Farell
Here’s video of Daniel Ricciardo during race start: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-italian-grand-prix-onboard-with-daniel-ricciardo-as-he-takes-the-lead-at-the-start-of-the-italian-gp.1710701862040105596.html
Here’s how F1 Italian GP panned out