McLaren’s boss has issued a thinly-veiled swipe at Daniel Ricciardo, as he seeks to turn around his poor form at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo's stellar opening lap
Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren F1 looks on in the Paddock prior to final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Austria at Red Bull Ring on July 03, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria. (Photo by Mario Renzi – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo admits he is “still a long way off” the pace as he seeks to end his run of poor form at the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday night (AEST).
The Australian has struggled to adjust to his new car since leaving Renault at the end of last year, finishing 13th at the recent Styrian Grand Prix as he languishes in ninth in the drivers’ standings.
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Ricciardo will start from 13th on the grid in Austria after another poor performance in qualifying.
But he believes he is gradually coming to grips with his MCL35M.
“Honestly it felt a bit better this week, actually made some improvements to some areas,” Ricciardo told reporters after qualifying.
“Last week there were some kind of key areas where I was missing out.
“Made a good step but it’s not really translating into lap time when it counts.
“I don’t really have much to say. It felt decent, I wasn’t too uncomfortable or anything like that, just the lap time is still a long way off and for that I don’t have much more of an explanation. It’s just not there.”
“I hope so. The car has felt decent all weekend, it’s just we’ve been quite low down the timesheets.
“So hopefully in the race, once we settle into a rhythm, we can show a little bit more pace consistently. But I’ll need another start like last week and use that momentum to help for the next 70 laps.”
Championship leader Max Verstappen will start from pole position, while in a worrying sign for Ricciardo, his McLaren teammate Lando Norris will also be on the front row of the grid after he showed blistering pace in qualifying.
Austrian Grand Prix starting grid
1st row: Max Verstappen (Red Bull) Lando Norris (McLaren)
2nd row: Sergio Perez (Red Bull) Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
3rd row: Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
4th row: Yuki Tsunoda (AlphaTauri) George Russell (Williams)
5th row: Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) Carlos Sainz Jr (Ferrari)
6th row: Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
7th row: Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) Fernando Alonso (Alpine)
8th row: Antonio Giovinazzi (Alfa Romeo) Kimi Räikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
9th row: Esteban Ocon (Alpine-Renault) Nicholas Latifi (Williams)
10th row: Mick Schumacher (Haas-Ferrari) Nikita Mazepin (Haas-Ferrari)
Ricciardo off to promising start in Austria
It's lights out in Austria and Daniel Ricciardo has started like a house on fire, jumping four places in the opening lap.
The Australian passed Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz, Charles Leclerc as well as Sergio Perez, after the Red Bull went wide off the track.
Ricciardo is now in ninth position, but we've seen this story before.
He started last weekend's Styrian Grand Prix in similar fashion but couldn't capitalise after the power unit in his McLaren failed.
McLaren boss on Ricciardo 'head-scratcher'
McLaren team principal Zac Brown is putting on a brave face but is clearly frustrated with Daniel Ricciardo's form.
"Clearly he’s a huge talent. I don’t think you win seven Grands Prix and have 30-plus podiums by accident," Brown told Sky Sports before the Austrian Grand Prix.
"Clearly something’s just not clicking yet. I think it’s just a matter of time.
"I think … in a race, in a moment, it’ll just kind of all come together.
"I think all these cars are different. It takes a little bit of time to acclimatise so no doubt he’ll get there, but it’s a little bit of a head-scratcher at the moment."
Ricciardo is desperate to turn his form around at tonight's Grand Prix.
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