Daniel Ricciardo can consider himself lucky he walked out of Portugal with some points despite committing a ton of mistakes. While his teammate Lando Norris is having the best start of his career, sitting in third ahead of Valtteri Bottas, it has been a fall from grace for Ricciardo.
He said he was confident that he was getting more comfortable during practice, but Ricciardo had a qualifier to forget, embarrassingly starting the race in 16th.
The former Red Bull driver called it his worst nightmare as a driver. He had been compared to the other drivers in a new car this season, notably Carlos Sainz and his Ferrari.
Although Sainz missed out on points at Portugal and allowed Ricciardo to move up to P9, the Australian had a shabby drive. While most of the drivers had already pitted, Ricciardo moved up to fifth. A calamitous 4.8 second pit stop took the race away from him.
McLaren are hardly the benchmark in pit stop times, but Ricciardo made things worse when he overshot the pit box. Post-race stats show Ricciardo was almost three seconds slower than Sainz, and he took the blame for his error.
“Okay, that was a good comeback guys, good comeback, thank you,” he said after the race was over.
“Well done Daniel, back in the points, P9,” came the reply from the McLaren radio.
But Ricciardo clearly hadn’t let his disastrous pit stop escape his mind. He apologised, saying, “I also know it’s a bit of a broken record but apologies for the stop. Realise I came in quite long. Sorry for that.”
The McLaren team brushed it off, saying, “Don’t worry about that Daniel, everyone’s okay. No harm done, we’ll come back in a week’s time and smash some stuff up.”
The near five-second pit stop saw Ricciardo throw away his lead and come back almost 2.5 seconds behind AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in 10th. He had to fight back, and although he overtook Sainz, he was overtaken by Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
Sky Sports analysed how badly Ricciardo had fallen in Portugal.
David Croft said, “I’ll tell you why that was slow, look how far beyond his mark Daniel Ricciardo was. That little T is where the wheels are drivers are expected to stop and any further and the crew has got to start reaching for where the wheels are going.”
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said the team is working to improve their pit stop times, but Ricciardo was at fault for what happened in Portugal.
McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said the team are looking to improve their pit stops but that Ricciardo was to blame for Portugal.
“I think we need to separate what happened today, Daniel overshot the position by quite a bit and that (affected the) front jack. So I think it was well done by the crew to recover [after] that loss of two seconds,” he told reporters in Portugal.
“In general it is clear that we are not there yet, we want to be, because we want to have each single pit stop be the best ones. But we are working on that. We’re working on both the consistency and the speed. I definitely see that we’ve made steps forward there. But at the same time we still need to make further steps,” he added.
Ricciardo had noted earlier that he had been having problems with the brakes locking and was worried about losing the rear end of the car. Although he hasn’t fully adapted, Seidl believes he will do so soon as the season goes on.
“He’s the one who’s probably disappointed the most because he knows he has it in him, he’s disappointed that he can’t extract the performance of our car yet,” Seidl said.
“But at the same time, he’s very experienced. We are also very experienced on the team side. It’s important to stay calm, work through this. I’m 100% sure that it is just a matter of a bit more time, and then we will see Daniel back to the performance that we all know from him.”
Speaking to Sky Deutschland, former F1 driver Timo Glock said Ricciardo had faced similar issues during his time at Renault, but he oversaw a turnaround in his fortunes.
“He had his little problems there (at Renault) at the beginning, but got on top of them very well over time. That’s why McLaren will have to wait and see how this internal team duel develops,” Glock said.
“In general, McLaren is currently very, very strong and I’m extremely happy for Andreas Seidl, who is doing a really great job in getting McLaren back on track as the third force.”