Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Ricciardo left “really low” after power unit glitch eradicates his flying start

2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Daniel Ricciardo’s flying first lap in the Styrian Grand Prix was cancelled out by problem with his power unit six laps into the race.

Ricciardo qualified 13th but immediately gained four places to hold ninth at the end of lap one.

On lap six Ricciardo reported he had “no power” over the radio. McLaren were able advise him how to fix the problem, but he fell back to 13th and was unable to regain any of his lost places by the end of the race.

“It was disheartening because I had such a great start and [was] obviously on a preferred strategy, with the medium [tyre]. So I felt like the cars ahead would have would have struggled on the soft and we were in a really good position.

“So it was all there ahead of us. Then I lost power.

“I felt it out of turn one and then I got some switches and we were able to recover it by I think turn seven or turn eight. But everyone I passed on lap one, basically I did wave back past me. So then you’re in the train and that’s it, afternoon done.”

Without the problem Ricciardo believes he would have finished close behind team mate Lando Norris.

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“We were ahead of Sainz, same strategy, he finished sixth,” said Ricciardo. “I really think that was us today. I think we could have been fifth and sixth again as a team.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gallery: 2021 Styrian Grand Prix in pictures
Ricciardo registered his second point-less finish since joining McLaren this year. “When it’s low, it’s really low, this sport,” he said. “This was one of those days that I really did not love it.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl explained how Ricciardo’s race went awry. “There was a control issue on the power unit side which affected the power delivery for half a lap, which we could recover then, with some steering wheel switches.

“But due to that, he lost positions and then was stuck in traffic and the race was pretty much over.”

Seidl said the team had “mixed feelings” after Norris finished fifth but Ferrari out-scored them in sixth and seventh.

“Obviously we are very happy with the strong weekend we could have on Lando’s car, finishing P5, being the third strongest force, which was great.

“But it feels like a bit of a missed opportunity today on Daniel’s side after being in P9 after the first laps, ahead of the Ferraris.”

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2021 Styrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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26 comments on “Ricciardo left “really low” after power unit glitch eradicates his flying start”

  1. It really isn’t going for him at the moment, I hope it turns around.

  2. A close battle with Lando became false hopes. It won’t be easy with Lando.

  3. “So then you’re in the train and that’s it, afternoon done.”

    Well, Leclerc showed that isn’t the case and Norris showed the McLaren had similar pace to the Ferraris.

    1. @john-h One advantage Leclerc had was he was running out of sync on a different strategy, meaning he wasn’t always in the same fights as the rest of the midfield. Not saying that Ricciardo couldn’t have done the same, but Leclerc did have that in his favour.

      1. I dunno, it just feels like excuses for him at this point. I’m really frustrated he’s not up there fighting with Norris, we saw it at Paul Ricard and now we’re back to the status quo. That McLaren was quick enough, perhaps they could have done something different instead of waiting in the train. Seemed pretty defeatist that’s all.

        1. @john-h pretty sure the drivers don’t pick their own strategy mid-race.

    2. someone or something
      27th June 2021, 22:04

      Leclerc was on a different strategy compared to almost everyone around him. Most of the cars he overtook were either backmarkers, on softer tyres that were starting to lose performance (in the first stint), or on Hard tyres while Leclerc was on grippier Mediums in the earlier phase of the final stint. And their paths even crossed during the race: Between lap 25 and 37, Leclerc was behind Ricciardo and couldn’t find a way past the McLaren. He ended up pitting to get out of traffic.
      This is just to say that their situations were very, very different. Without a tyre advantage, a DRS train consisting of barely slower cars is bad news.

      1. Maybe Sainz was a better comparison, he was only a couple of places up the road. Ricciardo had his power loss on lap 9 of 71.

        1. someone or something
          27th June 2021, 23:49

          Sainz overtook exactly one car in the entire race (Stroll, right after his pit stop, on tyres that were 13 laps fresher).
          Ricciardo did overtake two cars after the engine glitch: Giovinazzi and Ocon, both on tyres that had given up.
          So, even for Sainz, there was no jumping wagons in the DRS train, unless that wagon had a significant tyre disadvantage.
          The main difference between Ricciardo and the Ferrari drivers was their respective pace in clear air. Both Leclerc and Sainz were able to maintain a similar pace to Verstappen’s late in the race (Sainz even had his chance to challenge Norris ruined by a somewhat slow Hamilton, who was a lap ahead), while both McLarens consistently lost about a second per lap.
          The real story here is how strong Ferrari were in the race, after a rather poor qualifying. Ricciardo’s performance was just par for the course, bad track position spoiled his race.

          1. Spot on – without a significant pace advantage, cars just couldn’t overtake one another. You can see it in the interactive lap chart posted on here – everyone from Stroll in sixth to Ocon in fourteenth just held station from the end of lap 1 to lap 24 when Russell pitted. Almost every place was inherited when the car in front pulled in to change tyres.

      2. I don’t think strategy played a huge part in Leclerc’s recovery drive. He was on the same tires, just at different times in the race. Tire degradation seemed low as well. Both he and Sainz just had a very good race pace, probably because they’d set the car up for the race and not for qualifying.

        1. someone or something
          28th June 2021, 4:14

          He was on the same tires, just at different times in the race.

          That … is one way to describe what strategy is about, in a nutshell?

  4. “So then you’re in the train and that’s it, afternoon done.”

    With that kind of an attitude, it is. All the other drivers have adapted to their new teams by now…

  5. It’s quite sad hearing Danny so dejected weekend after weekend… It’s really starting to feel like he’s falling out of love with the sport.

    2 years at Renault with only a couple of genuine highlights to show for it, now the “McLaren dream” is looking like a bit of a nightmare.

    Hope he doesn’t put himself in a Seb style hole that just gets harder and harder to motivate himself out of.

    1. The stint with Renault wasn’t brilliant but did not damage his status by any means. It only did show how far off Renault was.

      But things are looking bad now and i can see him with lesser alternatives for the future if things don’t improve soon.

  6. Its tempting to think that maybe the power unit issue started to surface in qualifying and took that 1 second off his time.

    Strange to have a cut out problem, and then have no further issues for the rest of the race after the reset.

    What sort of engine problem shows those symptoms?

    1. someone or something
      28th June 2021, 0:10

      Its tempting to think that maybe the power unit issue started to surface in qualifying and took that 1 second off his time.

      If that were the case, the team surely would’ve commented on that.

      Strange to have a cut out problem, and then have no further issues for the rest of the race after the reset.

      Sounds like a sensor failure or something similar. Occasionally, a sensor is damaged or detaches from where it’s supposed to be, resulting in readings that are outside of the acceptable range, which can send the engine into a low-power mode intended to bring the car back to the pits without causing additional damage. The fix usually consists in identifying the faulty sensor and telling the control electronics to ignore that sensor’s data.

      What sort of engine problem shows those symptoms?

      For my interpretation of what might’ve happened during the race: See above.
      For the two different issues you’re describing (lack of power that leads to a consistent time loss of a second per lap in qualifying; a sudden massive loss of power that appears out of nowhere and goes away after a few corners, costing him 4.5 seconds on that lap), I don’t think there is an issue that can explain both. It’s highly dubious he had an issue with his engine in qualifying at all, but even if he did, it would’ve been an entirely different issue from what happened in the race.

      1. SoS, some good thoughts there, thanks!

        Lando seemed to start handing up P 3 & P4 to Bottas and Perez respectively from lap 9 onwards, the same lap as Danny Ric had his engine issue. He immediately lost some pace. My guess is the team thought the issues might be related

        Also of interest is the fact they put Danny Ric onto Hard/whites at his pitstop. He had made the mediums last until lap 40 and would have torn up the track on a set of new softs for the remaining 30 laps.

        Why did they give him the slowest tyres?

        1. someone or something
          28th June 2021, 4:43

          Lando seemed to start handing up P 3 & P4 to Bottas and Perez respectively from lap 9 onwards, the same lap as Danny Ric had his engine issue. He immediately lost some pace. My guess is the team thought the issues might be related

          There were no issues for Norris. The timing was just a coincidence, lap 9 just happened to be the moment when his lap time deficit to the top-drawer cars became too big. He was losing about a second per lap up until lap 7, which was enough to hold Pérez at bay without losing time by driving defensively. But then, his deficit worsened a bit, and losing 1.3 seconds per lap allowed Pérez and Bottas to make their moves. At no time was there any radio chatter indicating a problem with Norris’ engine whatsoever.

          Also of interest is the fact they put Danny Ric onto Hard/whites at his pitstop. He had made the mediums last until lap 40 and would have torn up the track on a set of new softs for the remaining 30 laps.

          Why did they give him the slowest tyres?

          30 laps are a lot. While it is true that the C4 seemed to be able to survive that distance (the first stints on that compound ranged from 24 to 31 laps), absolutely no one gave this compound a try for the final stint (with the exception of Hamilton, who used the C4 for just two laps to grab the fastest lap). Sainz, who pitted on the same lap as Ricciardo, also went for the C2. It stands to reason that the teams’ projections unambiguously told them that the C4 was not a good race tyre.
          In that vein, I wouldn’t call the C2 ‘the slowest tyre’. For a few laps, maybe. But over a longer stint, its durability was a major asset.

          1. I’ll put my cards on the table.

            After Danny Ric’s engine problem, it became apparent he would struggle to finish in the points. I think McLaren rationalised they were better off with Lando racing for a secure P5 than risking a wheel to wheel battle for P3.

            Lando made his softs last 30 laps in the first stint with a heavy fuel load. Danny Ric could easily have made a set of softs last 30 laps with a lighter fuel load. I think he was put on whites to give the team a speed comparison to Lando.

            All up, I believe Mclaren are still evaluating Danny Ric vs Lando.

          2. someone or something
            28th June 2021, 7:40

            I believe you’re seeing patterns where there aren’t any …

          3. It will be interesting to see how they go next week (the C4 will be the medium I believe).

  7. I’m quite surprised they didn’t try something strategy wise after the initial problem put him behind Kimi.

    It was obvious he wasn’t going to get past and with Kimi on hard tyres he was just going to be stuck there. Why not try something different?

    1. someone or something
      27th June 2021, 23:58

      @dbradock
      The issue was with his starting tyres. Having started on Soft, he could’ve either gone for Hard (which he eventually did), or pit for Soft tyres (and commit to a two-stopper). Two-stoppers were already a somewhat desperate plan B for cars in clear air (Pérez almost made it work thanks to the fact that his car was simply faster than the Mercedes today), but with traffic it would’ve been as good of an idea as trying to get out of traffic in Monaco by making another pit stop …
      So, he was limited to a single viable strategy. He did try something a little different within these confines by extending his stint after Räikkönen pitted, but didn’t find enough pace to change the course of events.

  8. Ehh, a good start sure masked the issues a bit, but the lack of pace is the main issue. He and the team need to get to the bottom of it. There’s no low speed corners to blame here. It doesn’t fit the narrative of Monaco.

    With the faster comparative running on Friday being undone by Saturday, there must be a setup direction that works for him. But the team being unwilling to go there and treating him like a rookie that doesn’t know what he needs is not helping at all.

    1. @skipgamer yeah it certainly seems that way. He just has no pace, so once stuck in a train can’t get out of it.

      Was devastated to see him drop after such a good start though.

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