McLaren apologizes after failing Ricciardo

Up until lap 35, McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo was doing well in Jeddah. Shortly thereafter, he parked his MCL36 Mercedes at the edge of the track at the entrance to the pit lane and got out. Another setback for the traditional British racing team.

McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl speaks of “some technical problem” that took Ricciardo out of the race. But he remains vague in his statements: “It was something that occurred for the first time. We have to see. I can’t give an update here. And we have to apologize to Daniel because we didn’t give him the material that he deserves.”

Ricciardo presented himself “strongly” in Saudi Arabia, Seidl continues. “He had a slightly different strategy than the others after he got stuck in the first stint. And that strategy would have worked, I think. He would have been in Lando’s region [Norris] finished.” And Norris finished P7 in the race.

Ricciardo’s special strategy

So what did Ricciardo’s “other strategy” look like? Like most drivers, he had started the race on medium, but was already in the pits on lap eight, first ever. There, Ricciardo took Hard for a long second stint, with another set of Hard in reserve in case it didn’t otherwise last the distance.

Ricciardo explains the early first stop by saying that he was initially stuck in a “train”, specifically in P13 behind Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin. Ricciardo followed close behind, but couldn’t find a way past him in the first few laps.

“I had the impression of having a little more speed than the Aston Martin in front of me. But there you were probably driving with little downforce. So I was able to keep up in the corners, but overtaking was not possible even with DRS,” says Ricciardo.

Points would also have been possible for Ricciardo

That’s why McLaren sought salvation in an “alternative strategy” “to open the race for us,” said Ricciardo. This tactic worked: After the safety car phase up to lap 20, Ricciardo found himself in P12, a little later he overtook Nico Hülkenberg in the second Aston Martin and sniffed the championship points in P11, until he retired a little later.

What would have been possible? “I don’t really know,” says Ricciardo. But team boss Seidl has an idea: Both cars were “pretty similar” in the phase before the retirement. “Daniel definitely had the speed at that point to stay close to Lando and hold his position.” So McLaren could have scored with both cars.

Positive conclusion at McLaren after Jeddah

This is probably one of the reasons why Seidl speaks of a “super result” and says: “Seventh place, six points. We’ll take that with us.” Above all, the pace on the hard tires in the final phase of the race is “great motivation for the entire team”.

Ricciardo agrees with this assessment, although he is out. It was “a slightly more positive weekend overall”, “even if there was a defect. Not ideal, but we were much more competitive,” he explains.

“The feel of the car was certainly better. And the car doesn’t feel bad. We just lack grip and downforce. In a way that’s encouraging because we’re not doing badly in general. We just need to improve a lot now. “

Or in the words of Seidl: McLaren “have to keep working hard”, but should be “completely satisfied” with the race in Jeddah because, for example, the pit stops also worked well.

“Of course we also benefited from the fact that a few cars in front of us dropped out,” says Seidl. “But as a team we did a great job with the strategy.”