Ricciardo accepts defeat for now in battle with Norris

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren MCL35M leads team mate Lando Norris (GBR) McLaren MCL35M. 18.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola
© XPB 

When the McLaren pit wall Daniel Ricciardo was told to move over and let his team mate Lando Norris go past early in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, many onlookers expected angry repercussions after the race back in the motorhome.

Ricciardo admitted afterwards that he'd had to swallow his price to accede to the team's instructions, but after a few days to review the situation the Aussie has no complaints about how the team managed the situation.

“I had enough laps," Crash.net reports him as saying this week. "Then I started to struggle with the right front tyre with some graining and I could not lift my pace.

“The team gave me enough of a chance and I could not get more out of it. Lando was the quicker car," he freely acknowledged. "You're never happy, but of course I was happy to abide by the rules because it made sense.

Ricciardo had managed to out-qualify Norris on Saturday after the younger man's fastest lap was deleted for exceeding track limits, meaning that he had started from sixth on the grid with Norris one place further back.

Norris then dropped two places at the start while Ricciardo gained one. But by lap 16 Norris had regained the ground he's lost and was right on Ricciardo's back wing complaining that he was being held up, which is when the McLaren team managers asked him to let Norris through.

Once he was released, Norris quickly pulled away from Ricciardo, confirming it had been the right decision. By the end of the race, despite a late red flag packing the field up, Norris crossed the line in third place for a podium while Ricciardo was almost 25s further back in sixth.

“On paper the result looks all right but I wasn’t fast,” Ricciardo said. “A bit like most of the weekend: Lando got a podium and had for sure stronger pace for at least a majority of the race.

“I never really felt that I had that pace, probably all weekend.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren with the team in parc ferme. 18.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola

“On the positive side, one of the cars is on the podium, and in the second race of the year I think that is really encouraging. The potential of the cars there," he pointed out. "But on my side I need to figure out not what is going wrong, just what I can do better.

"I’m going to accept defeat for the moment and just work and see what I can improve," he continued. “Sixth is probably the best we can do for a while.

“I don’t want to be too hard on myself," he added. "I’m not going to beat myself up. I leave this weekend with a positive outlook. I would much rather see Lando in third then in 15th.

"I certainly see the positives and for the team as well. In the second race to get a podium already is a good start," he insisted. "So there certainly are some encouraging signs, and congratulations to [Lando and the team], they have been strong all weekend. I’ll keep working.

“I cannot let my ego or pride get in the way of the moment,” he stated. “I don’t want to bring any negative attitude into the team, it is just what I need to do to improve.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) McLaren MCL35M makes a pit stop. 18.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola

“Of course I would love to do better at the moment," he added. “There are so many races, but in the first two I have been a bit off the pace."

In many ways it's not unlike his early days at Renault in 2019 when he struggled to match the pace of his then-Renault team mate Nico Hülkenberg but came good with two podiums in 2020.

“It shows that that extra year I had in the car at Renault was beneficial," he said. “In a few months I will probably look back at the start of [this] season and not be so stressed about it."

And McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl certainly isn't concerned with how things are going.

"Daniel did a great job," he said after Sunday's race. "He put in a clean race, made good decisions and scored a lot of points that will be valuable both for himself and for the team."

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