Has Daniel Ricciardo rediscovered his best form? With his fifth-place finish at Silverstone, he had his best finish of the season, and McLaren’s Andreas Seidl said the team were pleased with his progress.
Since moving to McLaren from Renault, Ricciardo has openly struggled to adapt to the MCL35M, but his latest weekend was much more positive.
The seven-time Grand Prix winner finished a mere 0.02 seconds behind his teammate Lando Norris in qualifying and finished right behind him in the F1 Sprint Qualifying Race, as well as 14 seconds back in Sunday’s Grand Prix to make his first top-five finish with his current team. In Seidl’s view, Ricciardo’s resurgence was one of a number of positives from the weekend.
“Very strong drive all weekend from Lando and I’m very happy with the progress Daniel made, a really good step forward in qualifying on Friday and then managed to pull off some good races which is great to see. Looking forward now to Hungary.
“As Daniel said also after the race, there’s still things obviously to improve to match Lando, but the important thing is he’s making steps, feeling more comfortable in the car in both quali and the race and it was a big step forward compared to previous races which was good,” said Seidl.
However, Seidl was wary of how fast the Ferraris could go and, while Charles Leclerc took a fine podium finish, he could not see how Norris could contend with Valtteri Bottas for P3 at Silverstone.
“In terms of the outcome of the race, I think, obviously, we didn’t finish the battle with Valtteri with Lando. If there was a chance we could fight for P3, difficult to say as if we’d done another pit stop Valtteri would have gone long, long, long with his stint and then created a tyre delta at the end of the race – so [it’s] difficult to say if that would have been a chance to keep him behind. To be realistic, he would have just gone by like he did with everyone else.
“But overall, for us, a very strong weekend with P4 and P5. Scoring strong points in our fight in the constructors’ championship and then we have to accept the cars ahead of us at the end of the race, Charles especially in the Ferrari was very quick all weekend,” he concluded.
McLaren remains 15 points ahead of Ferrari in the 2021 F1 constructors’ championship, despite Leclerc’s podium finish at Silverstone.
Daniel Ricciardo, for his part, has accepted that coming to grips with his new car will be an ongoing challenge – despite trying hard to adapt to the McLaren F1 car for 2021.
Despite his best efforts, the Australian has not been able to match teammate Lando Norris’ performances in the MCL35M.
Throughout the year, he has shown signs of improvement, and at Silverstone, he finished fifth, one place behind Norris.
“It’s still definitely at times frustrating,” he said. “But I’m probably past the point of being frustrated, I think now it’s kind of a reality that I’m still needing to find some more and just be at one with the car. That’s probably the best way to put it.
“So I guess it’s not anything new for me now. I know and I’m aware that it’s probably still gonna be a process.
“I didn’t panic at the beginning, but I was aware that I was losing ground, and I was just trying to understand where am I losing and what is it that I need to help me get you know those three or fourth tenths a lap more.”
A solid Silverstone weekend encouraged Ricciardo, despite feeling stronger during a qualifying run than in the race.
“I’m definitely happy on paper, or happier, with the first top-five of the year,” he told Autosport.
“And Lando getting another top five, so it’s obviously good points for the team. I know Ferrari obviously had a good strong weekend as well.
“I think there’s now just still some underlying pace. It’s strange because you’d think on one lap is where I would maybe lack more, when you really push the car on the limit, and maybe the race when everything settles down I’d have a bit more.
“But we’ve kind of seen the opposite this weekend. On the race when the car is a bit on fuel and starts to move around more that’s where I’ve still got to dial it in a bit more. I think just the feeling and being able to really put the car on that knife-edge I’m not able to do as consistently yet.
“I think having Carlos actually at the end, or for most of the race, on me, and putting the pressure on me, kind of forced me in a way to overdrive some corners.
“And I think it allowed me to feel a little more where that edge is. That’s definitely the encouraging thing. I know in clear air Carlos was definitely quicker, but to get a top-five when I’m still like this, it is encouraging,” concluded Ricciardo.