Daniel Ricciardo is still finding his way at McLaren but his confidence will be high after a Portuguese Grand Prix which saw the much-loved Aussie cross the line in 9th – having started the third Grand Prix of the 2021 season in 16th position.
“Today was certainly a better day. I was able to do what I set out to do and overtake some cars, have some battles and get rid of some anger from yesterday, so that was good.”
Daniel Ricciardo had certainly shown anger with himself over the McLaren team radio when the news that he was out of qualifying at the first stage was met with an expletive from the Perth native.
“It’s hard to shake when you believe in yourself and know what you’re capable of, and then when you don’t execute it breaks you,” Ricciardo explained after Sunday’s race.
However, in the same way that his teammate Lando Norris, overcame disappointment in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix following his qualifying error, Ricciardo was able to find the positives from his point-scoring performance in Portugal:
“I think there were moments of the race that were really positive and having got another race distance under me, I feel like I’ve got quite a bit of feedback for the team. I definitely feel some things which are holding me back in terms of what I want to do with the car, and every time I try it, it doesn’t quite hold on. So, I think there are some things we can immediately address with the set-up, and then with some updates to come. Overall, I’m pretty optimistic with how the race went, thanks again to the team at track and in Woking for their support and hard work this weekend. I’m already looking forward to Spain in a few days’ time.”
One of the things Daniel Ricciardo was able to address after yesterday’s Portuguese Grand Prix was areas of the car which he felt could be brought more to his liking with set-up changes, rather than upgrades.
“I managed to make it into the pen with happier thoughts today. It was a better race – hard to do worse than yesterday,” Ricciardo told the media after his 9th place finish.
“I think everything I planned in my head to execute in the race I was more or less able to do that. I wanted to attack on the first lap, take a few risks and I felt I did and it paid off.
“Then just chipped away through the race. I think some strong points – in parts of the race we had really good promise and some others not so much, but I feel like those actually highlighted some things which are in the car which I’m still asking for.
“I think we could find some actually just with set-up and not necessarily an update, so I think there are a few things which I probably understood today. I can probably just fine-tune the car to help in these areas.”
Whereas other racers on the grid are saying that a long season allows time to build performance, Daniel Ricciardo has a very different mindset:
“We get 20-something chances a year, it’s not actually that much, so when you don’t get it right, even waiting seven days is a long time to live with it.
“Today was better, I was able to release some of that, and the next few days probably I’ll just do some hard training to release any more excess energy I have, have some fun and then go into Barcelona with a fresh mindset.
“I know what I’m capable of, so I just have to have my eyes forward and not look behind.”
Andreas Seidl, McLaren Team Principal, is also aware of what Daniel Ricciardo is capable of and his comments on the team’s official website mclaren.com demonstrated his pleasure at what he saw:
“Today we saw a great recovery drive. Well done to the entire team here at the track and back home, to both our drivers and to our colleagues from Mercedes HPP for striking back after a disappointing qualifying session yesterday. Lando completed another excellent weekend with a very strong drive to P5. Starting from P16, Daniel managed a very good first stint, making up a lot of positions at the start, delaying his pit-stop to gain further places, and then attacking at the end to finish P9, scoring another two important points for himself and for the team in the Constructors’ Championship.
“This result strengthened our hold on third position in the Constructors’ Championship, which is obviously very encouraging. It’s important we keep developing the car and delivering strong performances over the next few races – starting at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in less than five days’ time.”
The result in Portugal did indeed strengthen McLaren’s position but Alpine, having finished seventh (Esteban Ocon) and eighth (Fernando Alonso) have made a big leap in performance and McLaren will need both their drivers on top form to keep this rebranded Renault team at bay.
One would assume that the desire for Daniel Ricciardo to outperform his former team is a big one and as such I fully expect to see Ricciardo make even more strides next weekend in Barcelona. In doing so, such a race weekend would also pressure his impressive high flying teammate Lando Norris a lot more. Such a scenario can only benefit F1 and the McLaren team as a whole.
Kimi Raikkonen will also be looking to bounce back in Barcelona next weekend after a very uncharacteristic error from The Iceman: