Daniel Ricciardo says he is not over-driving or the fighting the car, but there are limitations still to combat in McLaren, as Andreas Seidl adds more.
It has been a mediocre start to the 2021 F1 season for Ricciardo at McLaren, which is a new team for him alongside a new teammate in new surroundings and new personnel. Eight races in and he has been in the points in six of same. It has not been that bad.
The Styrian GP, though, was a slightly eye-opening event for him. The qualifying surprised him after he ended up only 13th in a competitive grid. He had an excellent start and was ninth by the end of the opening lap. But a control issue dropped behind to end 13th.
Outside his race performance, in qualifying, Ricciardo has only once in the last four races made it into Q3 and the weekend just gone was not one of them. Talking more about his situation, taking in the Red Bull Ring circuit, the Australian noted that he is not over-driving the car and or wrestling it, as is the case when one struggles.
“Let’s say, I’m definitely fighting it to try to have the same kind of corner speed [to how Lando is at Red Bull Ring],” said Ricciardo to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I don’t think the fighting is coming from like over-driving or like wrestling the car. It’s just you’re trying to basically just carry a bit more speed and obviously keep the minimum speed up.
“I do find myself kind of run out of a little bit of track and a little bit of room. So I think that’s why the Styrian GP qualifying was a little bit couldn’t really figure out how to find that half a second,” summed up Ricciardo.
Having been in the first two rows for the opening two Grands Prix weekends, qualifying has become a massive Achilles Heel for Ricciardo, finishing 12th, 13th, 10th and 13th in the last four Grands Prix – which includes his crash in Azerbaijan GP.
His troubles resembles his past. It did not start great when he joined Renault (now Alpine) from Red Bull in 2019, but last year saw him earmark some semblance of consistency for most of the season, and then he signed for McLaren.
This missing time is possibly coming from not over-driving or wrestling the car, as he says, but a simple thing of adjustment. To make it slightly worse, teammate Lando Norris has been in the point every race so far and the last five of 2020 and his stock is rising massively.
Going back to the missing time, Ricciardo now needs to possibly take the risks to find that missing time. It is getting frustrating for him certainly, as much, it is for his fans, but the Australian is keeping his mind together along with his team, who is helping him throughout.
“The broken record expression is okay to talk about the situation,” said Ricciardo. “I don’t think it gets to me, it gets to me when I’m obviously, qualifying P13, or P14 that obviously frustrates me because I know that I don’t belong here, at least that’s obviously my feeling and my belief in myself, but it’s not so much like the outside the media.
“And I think if anything, it’s I guess people want me to do well and I have like support from the outside. So I guess that’s why the questions are asked to me, because everyone kind of wants me to get up there and kind of expects me to be. I don’t let that kind of thing get me down. I think it’s certainly been a difficult time, just because, like the lack of speed sometimes is surprising.
“So I think that’s been the one where it’s, I wouldn’t say it’s always that obvious for me, at least initially. I don’t think I’m getting in my own head and just trying to over-complicate it. I don’t think I’m, as I said, driving out of my skin or doing anything silly. It’s just a difficult time not really knowing all the time where the time is. So it’s complex and for sure, frustrating, but I don’t think it’s getting to me where it’s affecting my in-car performance,” summed up Ricciardo, who was a bit more dejected after the Styrian GP result.
It started off with tremendously spirited performance, particularly early on, making up five positions over the opening laps. However, a control issue saw him lose all that hard work and effort and dropped him back in the field and no chance of recovery, for which team boss Seidl apologised to him too.
“It was such an unlucky race, we went from 13th to eighth,” said Ricciardo. “It was an awesome start and first lap, where we put oursevles in such a good position, ahead of our quicker rivals on the mediums. We were sitting pretty and then all of a sudden, I lost power. So, every position I gained, I basically waved them through.
“We were able to fix it on track, it was a control issue. I was back in the mess that I did well to get out of. Then you are in traffic and in a train, honestly, the race is over after that. It is disheartening for sure, out of our control. I look at the positions, I was ahead of Sainz in the same strategy, he finished sixth, so we could have been there. It was painful to see all the work undone when you try to fix it and everyone is just going past you,” summed up Ricciardo.
From team boss Seidl’s side, he noted that the data showed what the issues are for Ricciardo and it is something they are working on to solve it, as the Australian continues to fight some of the limitations he’s feeling with the car.
“I don’t want to go too much into detail but looking at the data after Styria qualifying, I think we have a clearer idea of what the issues are, as I said before he’s still fighting some of these limitations he’s feeling when driving the car on the limit,” said to media including FormulaRapida.net.
“And having these limitations are very penalising on a track like Austria. And with the field being so competitive, that quickly ends up being in a position where he finished qualifying. And again, it’s complex, it takes time but as always, it’s important to simply keep working with the data. Keep analysing, make the right conclusions, learn from them and make the next steps.”
The story was written by Neil Farrell
Here’s Lando Norris on how his race went in Styrian GP