Daniel Ricciardo reflects on Monza win and his improvements as Lando Norris reckons repeat is not on cards, while Charles Leclerc speaks on new F1 power unit which Carlos Sainz won’t have just yet.
After a so-so start to his McLaren campaign, Ricciardo finally was able to smile through the roof when he won the Italian GP at Monza. It was a triple shoey moment for him, as he also got to keep his winning trophy beside Ayrton Senna’s at MTC.
Ever since the summer break, Ricciardo seems to have found some pace and looks in a better shape with the car, which has been driven sublimely by Norris so far. It is good timing, considering that McLaren is in a big fight against Ferrari for third.
For Ricciardo, it was not just relief but also a moment to understand that he could throw the car more on track and get the response he is most comfortable with. Talking about the growing confidence, the Australian also felt better to be on the top step.
The last time he did so was in Monaco with Red Bull. Although, the idea with Alpine/Renault was to finish on the podium, which he did so, he finally got to the top step with McLaren after three years gap. It, in a way, vindicated his decision to switch F1 teams.
While he basks in the winner’s glory, teammate Norris did feel the pinch to be second personally. But for the team, he was happy to have made the 1-2 possible. He is not certain that there could be a repeat in 2021, considering the back and forth situation.
Comfort level, brake improvements –
Ricciardo: “The last few weekends I’ve felt more comfortable and excited to come racing. The break was good but obviously I’m ready to go again and I think I’ve shown that. So it’s just trying and keep showing that. If it turns into a victory or a podium, awesome. I think we’ll do well regardless of where we stand.
“In braking maybe there was some stuff that I wasn’t that strong on. But in general, I wouldn’t say that was a stand-out weakness. I think I was probably struggling in a few areas. I probably wasn’t perfecting anything in the first half of the season. I’m getting closer. I wouldn’t say I’m perfecting it yet.
“But certainly Monza was encouraging to go there with that style of circuit, the big braking zones, the low downforce. To have a bit of confidence throwing the car around, that was positive. I’m definitely confident moving forward. We’ll see, hopefully there’s some good things to come or more good things to come. I feel good, I feel better.”
Ricciardo: “I did not really think like that in terms of, even though the struggles this year or over the last couple of years at times… I never got into the mindset of is this it? Was Monaco the last time I will get there. I knew I would have to work harder for it at times, but last year, for example, getting a Renault back on the podium, that was such a target.
“So achieving that took a lot of fulfilment and so did the team. Monza did kind of make everything worth it. But it was nice to stand back up there. To do it with another team there is a sense of pride in that, making it work and getting to the top step with another outfit, and none other than McLaren. There certainly is some feel-good stuff about it. I like winning, winning is good, so it was good to do it again.”
Norris: “Probably not. We will try our best. We will try to maximize everything. There are some tracks that we are definitely better at and some we are worse at, but there are these opportunities that arise for us that we are good at taking advantage of and being in the right position at the right time. We had an amazing weekend in Monza.
“It was a bit of a shock for everyone, but we were there on merit and were very quick all weekend. But it does not mean we will be like that every single weekend from now on. We did not find anything magical. We had a better weekend and things flowed better for us, and the car suited the track.
“That is the way it is going to be for the rest of the season. Some tracks will be better and will be more competitive and some tracks work in a struggle more. But how good or bad we will be I am not too sure yet.”
Seals P3 or more close fight:
Norris: “Good for the moment, but like Charles said it is tight. It has been swinging backwards and forwards. We had a tough weekend in Zandvoort and they pulled away a decent amount. And then we got them back in Monza. I wished we could run away with it but I don’t think any of us will. It will go backwards and forwards, some races we will be better in some races they will be a little bit better. That’s the way it is. It keeps us on our toes. It is exciting and challenging. Maybe not a thing we really want but it is a good challenge.”
On Ferrari side, they did capture the 20 points in Monza to not allow McLaren run away with 1-2 finish, but in Sochi, they have Leclerc starting from the back due to the new power unit. The Monegasque, though, is trying to keep things down for the moment.
Considering that Ferrari is bringing it to understand more about the power unit, Leclerc doesn’t wish to raise the high hopes alarm just yet. It is a strategic use on the Monegasque’s side, which Sainz understands about and fully supports the decision.
Leclerc: “On paper, it is a little bit better and obviously whenever we have something a little bit better we try to bring it on track and yeah, we expect it to be a little bit better, we don’t expect any big, big changes, but something that goes in the right direction. For now, the forecast is rain, so if that is the case it might be an unpredictable race, and yeah, hopefully, it will play in our favour. If it is dry, if we have the pace, it is still a track where we can overtake, let’s see how it goes.”
Sainz: “There’s been a lot of thought about when and how to put this new power unit. In the end we had a look at the pool of items we have – the three power units – and obviously Charles was damaged since the accident he had in Hungary because someone crashed into him, so he’s basically a lot tighter on parts than I am. For him, it was pretty urgent to try and get the fourth PU ready. The team obviously did a pretty big effort to try and bring this item forward, and I’m happy that he will get the first test on it and see how it works.
“It will be a good experiment for us, also regarding next year as it is a development path we want to follow into next year’s engine, which as you guys know we have a bit of homework to do there. I will take it as soon as the compromise between starting last and the championship and the circuit allows me – with the parts I have available – to put it on the car.”
Here’s news on new Ferrari power unit
Here’s Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris and Andreas Seidl on Monza