Lando Norris, McLaren, Albert Park, 2022

McLaren told Ricciardo to stay behind Norris due to fuel worries

2022 Australian Grand Prix

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Lando Norris took fifth place in the Australian Grand Prix despite losing multiple seconds per lap as McLaren urged him to lift-and-coast to save fuel.

The McLaren driver secured the team’s best result of the season so far in Melbourne, one place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, who was told to follow his team mate home.

Norris lost six seconds over the final three laps. Team radio revealed he was instructed by race engineer Will Joseph to undergo heavy lifting and coasting over the run to the flag.

“We’re managing an issue,” Joseph told his driver at the start of the 56th lap. “Daniel’s five seconds behind. I want to use [lift and coast] up to those five seconds. Daniel will not put pressure on you.”

After crossing the line to secure fifth position, Norris was told to “save as much fuel as possible on the in-lap, please.”

Meanwhile Ricciardo had been told “we’re managing something on Lando’s car, we don’t want to put him under pressure,” with two laps to go. “It’s okay to close the gap but don’t put him under pressure,” his race engineer Tom Stallard added.

“If he loses power, what do you want me to do?” Ricciardo asked. “Drive past,” Stallard replied.

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“Just don’t hit him, Daniel, that’s all. If he loses power, I just don’t want an accident. But it’s okay if he’s completely lost power, you can go past. I don’t want you to put him under pressure while everything is okay.”

Norris made it to the chequered flag and his car passed post-race scrutineering. Speaking after the race, Norris described his afternoon as “difficult”.

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“We had quite a few problems we had to manage, which wasn’t ideal,” Norris said. “We had decent pace in the car, so when you’re pushing, you’re always working a little bit more.”

Despite McLaren enjoying their best weekend of the season so far, Norris reaffirmed his belief that the result was more down to the circuit than McLaren managing to unlock performance from their car.

“The thing is, if we went back to Bahrain, we’d still be P13 in qualifying and we’d finish two laps down or whatever,” Norris explained. “The car’s exactly the same, which is the problem.”

“I think we understand it’s just a much quicker track, much smoother and that suits the car a lot more. We can put it in a more optimum range. We’ll take what we’ve learned today and try to carry it with us into the next few races.”

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2022 Australian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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28 comments on “McLaren told Ricciardo to stay behind Norris due to fuel worries”

  1. Yeah, it’s still race-fixing.
    Team ‘sport’ or not – there’s still a Drivers Championship.

    1. They could at least have ricci on that spot in his home race.
      No need to protect a driver if a swap does not matter for the team.
      Embarrassing in this stage of the season.

      1. Lando was clearly the better driver in both qualifying and race – and the fuel issue not his fault, but rather the team‘s. Hence totally legit to let Lando have this one in my opinion. And nothing unusual, by the way.

        1. Looking at the race ricci followed lando early on with ease. He was the faster driver in the race.
          “It’s called racing” not knitting.

          1. And if Norris was under-fiueled or ran a higher engine mode to stay ahead then even more so. I think ricciardo would be rightfully cross about that. But he has to really step up his game before he can complain about these things with the team.

          2. yes totally agree, team should of let Ric have a crack at George in the first half of the race

          3. The faster Mercedes took off when the race settled down, DR had the benefit of DRS to stay on LN’s tail.

        2. You must have watched another race.
          Lando was clearly the slower driver in the race. I think McLaren really fluffed this one but not asking Lando to get out of the way. Ricciardo seemed to have the pace to live with Russell and should have been given a chance. It could have resulted in a podium.

    2. Yeah and if Danny doesn’t like it he can leave. Team has the power to “race fix” seeing as it’s their cars and all.

    3. Drivers Championship is overrated.

      The real championship is the team one; especially the technical side. Everybody knows it, it is even reflected in the budget cap where irrelevant things like marketing, accounting, catering, and driver salaries are excluded.

      1. Drivers Championship is overrated. (+1)

    4. Yes, this is one aspect that F1 that find completely anti-competitive and fake.

      A: It’s the third event of the year. It’s far too early to play favourites unless it is written in their contracts (and perhaps it is – who knows).
      B: If Ricciardo had overtaken Norris, the team would still get the same points in the constructors championship.
      C: Fixing the result in any way is completely unacceptable in any other circumstances. Ordering one driver not to attack another is not a competition – it is a show.
      It doesn’t matter if “this is the way F1 is” or whatever meaningless justification anyone can come up with. It is not sport – and it shouldn’t be F1.

      According to the rules, @yaru – no they can’t ‘race-fix’.

    5. Team orders or not I am not that worried DR seems like he has Landos measure at last so not to worried.

  2. Like he couldn’t save fuel later. I hate lies and liars, even though it somehow became socially acceptable to lie as long as it’s a PR move.

    1. Yeah not like there’s a rule that will disqualify you if you don’t have enough fuel at the end of the session or something. Certainly not a rule that say…..Alex Albon fell afoul off this weekend and Vettel last season.

  3. Due to other teams misfortunes, McLaren got a lot more points than they probably deserved today, they were always going to take the double car finish as is, why risk a crash with 3 laps to the end. It jumped the team from 8th in the constructors to 4th, that’s McLaren goal.

  4. No fuel worries, mate – would have been an issue in a rammed Albert Park if they’d been 1-2, but it’s a solid team result and I wonder if they were also protecting Norris from any threat from Ocon and Bottas behind.

  5. Norris had a terrible start.

    The next 40 laps, it looked like Daniel could have gone faster than Lando. I’m surprised they didn’t swap positions and let Dan have a go at Russel.

    Perhaps Dan needed to manage fuel as well and was benefitting from the tow from Lando.

  6. There seems to be some sort of collective amnesia regarding the benefit of a lighter fuel (and car) load, back before the cars were fuel limited we were constantly being told that an extra kilo of fuel was equal to an extra 0.X of a second lap time, same for extra car and driver weight. We can’t compare power, drag or drivers if we don’t know the overall weight of car + driver. Having said that I can understand McLaren placing more value on Norris than Ricciardo, he has youth on his side and no lack of talent.

  7. Seems a little weird, Lando was running the last part of the race in clear air well behind Hamilton with Ricciardo cruising in clear air ~4s behind who was well clear of Ocon/Albon.
    At that point they should have known his consumption very well by metering/calculation. Perhaps it was news to his engineers from a low level or pump pressure reading but perhaps not.
    Ric did run a lot of DRS earlier on and probably had better consumption but that’s the cookie, if Lando straight out used too much fuel to stay in front then he didn’t deserve team orders.

  8. Let Lando have 5th, McLaren had the same discussions in reverse last year. Pretty sure Dan is happier with the win in Italy.

    1. Yet Dan was able to set fastest lap on the last lap of the race. Dan was in control in Italy.

    2. Sure and I guess that’s why Ric immediately assented (with just a little internal niggle) but there’s no indication that Lando had the pace to get past Ric last year in any case, each time he closed the gap Ric opened it again.

  9. The team did much the same in the Italian GP last year. What goes around… Operating well as a team appears to be the underlying message.

    1. Not really ricci put in the fastest lap, so he had the pace.

  10. The job of the team is to maximize the points scored by the team, if they told car A to not pass car B so be it. Not my team and not my decision.

  11. This is not true Ric was 1.2 seconds away as you look at the Mclaren app and daniels engineer told him to stay further back due to Daniel having issues with tires over heating/ not clean air. After lando had the issue then daniels engineer told him that he could close the gap but not put pressure. Daniel was only further back because his engineers instructions

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