McLaren returned to points with both drivers last weekend, in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix . For the second time this season, after the Australian GP in Melbourne, the Woking team finished with both drivers in the top ten - with Ricciardo finishing the race eighth and Lando Norris ninth. A good race for the Australian driver who seemed a little more comfortable with the car.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl explained after the race to Motorlat.com and other selected media, what was the strategy put into play, which proved to be successful:
“Starting from P11 and P12 we’ve chosen to start the race with two different strategies, on paper going into the race with medium or hard tyres was the best option – with no incidents in between.
“So we are happy given the performance we’ve had here this weekend, and given the deficits, to score six points is a good outcome for us, as well as damage limitation, so I’m happy with how the team – with both drivers in the end – executed the race and also what we planned to do before the race,“ he said.
The team's orders prevented Norris from attempting to overtake Ricciardo and climb up to eighth place, with the British driver finishing the race 0.349 seconds behind his teammate, in 9th position.
“I think what we heard on the radio is what you would like to hear from every race driver, being ambitious and trying to have the best possible race for himself," Seidl said, commenting Norris' words after the team order.
"That's why there's a team in place that makes sure we have the best possible outcome for the team, without risking to lose two cars on track by crashing into each other.
"Because, for example, if Daniel had gone by Lando at the beginning of the race, we would just have ended up in a yo-yo like we have seen with some other teams already this year, both being stuck behind Alonso, and having the risk that Ocon actually goes through, at least on one of these cars," he stated.
"Our idea was, with holding position for both cars behind Fernando, that we make sure that we keep Ocon in check, which we did."
"It always depends on the circumstances. Our drivers are free to race. And we always try to provide for both drivers the same opportunities to do well, because that’s our responsibility. But if we are on different strategies and so on, obviously, you need to make sure as a team that you maximise the outcome for the team.”
McLaren struggled throughout the race to fight with Fernando Alonso's Alpine, which proved to be faster than the Woking team drivers, who failed to uproot him from seventh. Seidl explained what happened with the Spaniard to Motorlat.com:
"I think the only chance probably to get Fernando was if he would have pitted also with Lando, maybe at the first virtual safety car on lap eight or nine where several cars pitted," Seidl explained.
"But with our lack of straightline speed that we had all weekend... we knew if we do that and fall into traffic, we would not be able to clear this traffic quickly because of our straightline deficit. Different to [Pierre] Gasly, for example, we would have gone completely out of the race.
"And that's why it was the right thing to stay out and just stay with Fernando, seeing if any other opportunities would come up trying the overcut as well, for example by making sure you keep your medium tyres in the first stint in a happy place that you then can push when the car in front boxes," he said.
"But with the tyres not having really a lot left then we just had to settle in the position where we started with Lando. With everything I see at the moment, I think we maximised pretty much what we had. I think it was just not possible to do more with the package we had here."