Not the weekend the team from Woking was looking forward to. McLaren had a hard time through all the weekend trying to find the best pace, but the upgraded Ferrari made their life tough.
In the end at least, the team could count on a superb performance by Daniel Ricciardo, who managed after multiple battles with Ferrari driver, Carlos Sainz, to keep him behind for the whole race.
During his post-race interviews, the Australian reflected on his performance and commented: “ Progressive race. At times it was interesting. At the start I got a battle with Carlos, we switched positions but he caught me again into turn 6/7, and I managed to get the position back at turn 17 on the inside. Three changes of position in only one lap, but this was crucial for me today.”
The two drivers, met again during the race, and this led to a battle which ended up with a contact between them. Ricciardo commented this: “When Carlos started to attack me I had no choice but to push. At some point we touched, and Tom [Stallard, Ricciardo’s race engineer] informed me Carlos had some kind of damage; I guess that was soon after us touching”.
On people who defined his action not that polite he added: “ In the end I think Carlos could end the race; in these situations you don’t deliberate try to go into someone, but the one who is on the outside is generally more exposed to damage; nothing was deliberate but I guess he knew the risks he was taking trying to overtake me on the outside, that’s racing life.”
The duel between the British and the Italian team, is more alive than ever; in fact after the US GP, the two teams are now separated by just 3 and a half points. Ricciardo does not seem to be very optimistic: “I don’t really want to be pessimistic; I hope we’ll find the pace we’re lacking of now, at some point; but I think Ferrari made that one step they needed to be in front of us. I think, in my opinion, there will be circuits where maybe we’ll be a little bit at their level or higher, but generally I think they are in front of us as of now. We have to work really hard to keep them behind in the constructors' championship.”
The main problem McLaren and not just them had to face at yesterday’s GP, was the tyre management. The Australian admitted: “ It was tricky. When you come and pit for a brand new set, you have much more grip, but if you use it early than it drops way quicker; on my side it was a race in which I could never really push, or at least I could but always respecting the limits of the tyres. There were laps in which I felt I could push more.”
Daniel Ricciardo also told how he does not feel 10 out of 10 yet with his car despite 17 races have passed by: “I don’t feel like 10 out of 10 with my car although it’s passed a lot since the beginning of the season. But I don’t think my results of the year have been affected just by my adaptation and style of driving. This year we saw very little difference between many teams in the midfield. At some point everyone had the chance to fight for important positions, as we’ve seen in some races with AlphaTauri; so I don’t think it’s just me not feeling yet so confident with my car but it’s a more general concept.”