Ricciardo hoping to find an explanation for Spanish GP pace deficit to Norris

2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Daniel Ricciardo was mystified by his lack of pace compared to his team mate in the Spanish Grand Prix.

Ricciardo out-qualified team mate Norris in Barcelona but finished the race behind him, and said he felt a lack of grip from the first lap of the race.

“It was felt early on,” Ricciardo said. “I got up to eighth on lap one, obviously there was a few things going on around me, I remember Hamilton getting a puncture or something on the first lap. So we were a relatively good track position.

“But already from lap three, I knew that I was going to be doing some defending pretty soon,” he explained. “Then of course we knew it was two or three stops so I thought, okay, maybe we’ll pit, get a bit more pace on a different set of tyres. And no, we were kind of nowhere from the start to the end.”

Ricciardo described the race, which he ran on a three-stop strategy, as “one of the longer ones I’ve had in recent times.”

“It wasn’t like there was a slow stint,” he said, “it was a slow race from the start, but one where I just couldn’t basically couldn’t use any grip. And if I tried to use it, I was just sliding and slow.”

He said he “had no fight” as he slipped from ninth to 12th in the tight midfield battle.

“I tried to be conservative on the tyres and I just had to drive too slow to do that,” he explained. “[The car] simply was operating on a lower level of grip than everyone. I’m sure everyone complained because it’s hot and we [had] poor track conditions in terms of the heat.”

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Riccardo doesn’t believe set-up differences between the two McLarens fully explain his deficit to Norris, who finished over 45 seconds ahead of him. “There’s always little bits here and there. But to be honest I hope to find something else.

(L to R): Max Verstappen, Red Bull; George Russell, Mercedes; Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Spanish Grand Prix in pictures
“I hope that it’s, ‘oh, wow, this was wrong’ or ‘this was something,’ because when there’s set-up and stuff you could say, ‘oh, there’s a couple of tenths.’

“I haven’t seen the times yet but I know that I was just slow really,” Ricciardo admitted. “So I’m sure at times I was probably a second, if not more slower. So it felt more than set-up.

“So hopefully there’s something because obviously I’m experienced enough now to try throughout the race different things and try to push on the tyre, try to be conservative and approach the corners in different ways.

“But the net lap time by the end was the same each time I crossed the line, whether I’d use the tyres or not. So it was one of those ones where you’re just kind of scratching your head.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said they need to get to the bottom of what went wrong for Ricciardo.

“We need more time to analyse and understand why he was going backwards really from the first lap onwards and also then going to a different specification, tyre compound didn’t change the situation. That’s something we need to analyse and try to get on top of.”

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2022 Spanish Grand Prix

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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31 comments on “Ricciardo hoping to find an explanation for Spanish GP pace deficit to Norris”

  1. The explanation is right there for everyone to see. Just hard to accept to a select few.

    1. Steveetienne
      25th May 2022, 6:58

      Agreed. Lando is faster than Daniel.

  2. I can’t help thinking Ricardo is in the team to make Norris look great.

    Whose bankrolling that team anyway?

    1. Largely the Bahrain government via their Mumtalakat Sovereign Wealth Fund. Don’t tell those who object to everything to do with the Middle East and their involvement in F1…

  3. Don’t know how to reflect on it without hurting Ricciardo’s feelings tbh. Maybe: sometimes somebody else is just better?

    1. Norris is verstappen level, so that wouldn’t be a surprise, we could say ricciardo jumped from the frying pan into the fire, and with a worse car as well.

      1. Russell is the one who may be on Verstappen’s level. He obliteraded Norris on GP2/F2, whatever it was called.

        Norris is talented and always had a good car, but he wasn’t better than Sainz.

  4. Ricciardo has been saying the same sort of thing for years and years. He is, as they say here, all mouth and no trousers. Time for him to give way to a younger driver like Piastri.

  5. I don’t think it’s just that Norris is faster than Riccardo. If you look at his stint at Renault and make a comparison with Hulkenberg then Sainz. Riccardo was faster than both. Then we go back do Mclaren, Norris wasn’t that far ahead of Sainz, a guy that we can say is no better than Riccardo.

    1. Ricciardo replaced Sainz so there’s no direct comparison to be made. Norris was a rookie against Sainz in 2019 so I dare say he’s a better driver now than he was then. I’m sure Ricciardo can still drive. He doesn’t seem to be making silly errors or anything. I personally think Norris is simply brilliant but hasn’t had the front running machinery like Max yet.

      1. Absolutely, I’m sure he’s up there with the best f1 drivers atm, even so ricciardo should be doing better than he is atm, if you see his performance as verstappen’s team mate.

  6. Mr Squiggle
    24th May 2022, 22:36

    The car produced a top 10 time in Q3. Nothing can can be changed in parc ferme in terms of set up.

    Even if Dan was a standard three tenths slower than Lando per lap, that doesn’t explain how slow he was in Spain.

    So, I agree, there is possibly something else wrong. The trouble is, are Mclaren going to let us know?

  7. It does not make much sense to me. He has been convincingly beaten Vergne, Vettel, Hulkenberg and Ocon (also debatable over Kyvat), meanwhile he has been the only driver to be close (if still behind) to Verstappen. Yet being convincingly beaten by Norris, who, as someone else mentioned, is hardly better than Sainz.

    1. You assume that performance is static over time.
      Norris is clearly getting better.
      Ricciardo is probably going the other way.
      The lines on the performance graph are diverging.

    2. Yes, I agree it’s strange, however I rate norris much higher than sainz, I think there’s an element of lack of experience when norris went against sainz, even so ricciardo should be at least sainz\perez level, but the one I’ve seen at mclaren felt much slower, with a few exceptions here and there like monza 2021.

    3. Lando is more experienced and Riccardo swaped seats a bit too much which doesn’t help. The car is molded around Lando and Riccardo have to adjust or drive around it. Lando is much beter then Riccardo at the moment.

    4. Norris is way better than Sainz now.

      In your comparisons you forget that Verstappen and Norris were both ‘green’ to what they are now. They will surely be 0.3s quicker than they were in their first two seasons.

      All the others you used are decent midfielders at best. I never got why anyone rated Vergne. I do rate Hulk – but we’re taking at about Riccardo been one of the very best.

      He’s simply not as good as we thought. With Vettel’s deterioration – that 2014 great season from Riccardo, now doesn’t look as good. I realise that Seb found good form in 2015/16 – but frankly the Max of today would have beaten Lewis in 2017 and possibly due to the confidence found 2018.

      i.e. we got excited about Riccardo beating a former F1 champion, who’s turned out not to be as great as we thought.

      Proof is in the pudding. I like Riccardo, but in terms of top drawer status – he’s simply not that good.

  8. I can’t help but notice that the new young brigade all seem to spend a huge amount of time on sims, whether it be their own rigs or the factory one.

    It leaves me wondering whether or not the older drivers (Ricciardo, Vettel etc) are spending enough of their time focusing solely on driving and avoiding other distractions. I’d guess that all the young ones have had countless “offs” on their sim rigs in the search for some techniques that get them an extra tenth and then translate that back to their track driving.

    Maybe Dan, and others, need to just spend more time in their respective simulators working out just how to get the absolute maximum out of their cars. They “might” think its beneath them and their experience but there’s got to be a reason why Norris, Verstappen, Leclerc etc are so far ahead of them in equal machinery. It’s only a guess/observation but for mine, there seems to be a tangible difference between those that spend a lot of time on their “playstations” and those that don’t.

    1. @dbradock yeah I think there’s some merit in what you’re saying.

      Part of the issue I think for the older drivers, is that 10-15 years ago, the “home sim” was pretty basic compared to the modern rigs, hardware and software available today—so back then it really wasn’t worth their time/energy. Difficult to break that mindset, and if they’re not involved in the “scene” they simply wouldn’t be aware of what’s available these days.

      As a RIC fan, Sunday was hard to watch as he was just so, so slow. I quite like Norris, but can’t be a Norris-fan until he’s no longer RIC’s teammate haha

  9. It feels like these answers are getting a bit repetitive now. Even if McLaren find something wrong with the car, i don’t think Daniel can take any sort of solace. And am unsure how much longer McLaren can afford to have him–right now, they are in a sweet spot thanks to Lando’s podium at Imola; no immediate threats in the standings from Alfa Romeo or Alpine but its still early in the season and a couple of significant upgrades later, we may see Bottas, Alonso and Ocon finish higher than Lando and that’s when they will need Daniel to show up even more.
    It would be a shame if he is replaced mid season but no one wants to see him perform this badly–either he improves or he is replaced. Time is running out…
    Drive to Survive has made him as one of the faces of F1 in the USA..I don’t think he’ll have trouble finding success in Indycar.

    1. Now now, I don’t think Ricciardo needs to leave F1 altogether. He is surely better than that. I hope Stroll, Vettel, Latifi, Schumacher leave F1 before him.

      Hope he lands the Haas or Aston seat. Haas would be better as he could also replace Sainz is Sainz’s horrible form continues AND Daniel finds his old mojo back.

      1. He is surely better than that.

        Not according to his results.

        I wonder who McLaren will pick to replace him.

  10. McLaren’s problem is what if it is the car and not so much Dan. Put some young American kid in the car and they will have a diabolical mess on their hands.

  11. I doubt very much McLaren will replace him mid-season. They are not Red Bull!

    I don’t think Daniel has suddenly become a less fast driver. For whatever reasons they are, the car does not seem to suit him. It sounds like he does not really know either.

    I cannot imagine that if McLaren did indicate his time was up at the end of the season, he would wish to go to a less fast team. People have mentioned AM or Haas for example. I think he would be much more likely to try a different category and Indy Car is the obvious choice for him.

    It’s a shame because he always seemed to have the potential to challenge for a WDC when he was a bit younger. He’s very popular in the sport as well.

    1. @phil-f1-21

      Honestly… it’s so painful to watch his current form. Up until he was driving for Renault, he used to drive the wheels of his machinery. He dispatched a 4 time WDC with ease, was Max’s only teammate who could match him consistently and made Ocon look like garbage. I don’t think his talent has suddenly left him.. but you can’t keep blaming the car for his performances either.

      I feel Norris is the driver who has been improving by leaps and bounds every season and right now it’s Lando hitting his peak vs Ricciardo in decline. I just didn’t expect the delta in their performances to be so large so fast.

      I think if he has another season like last season, Mclaren will dump him at the end of this year and look at getting either Alonso, Bottas or Sainz (if Ferrari dumps him) back in the car.

      1. If McLaren did dump Daniel then I am not sure they would be having any of these three. I cannot see Bottas wishing to leave A.R. after one season that looks as though it’s going quite well. I think he’s too loyal for one thing. I don’t think Ferrari will want rid of Sainz either yet.

        I think the obvious option for McLaren would be Magnussen. Fast and quite cheap I expect, and I am sure he would move, given the opportunity. Or possibly Gasly if RBR don’t take him on. Or even Perez if Gasly moves to RBR and he is left without a seat next year.

      2. He dispatched a WDC that we now see needs everything to be ‘perfect’ – otherwise we don’t get anything like the Vettel of 2008 to 2013.

        Verstappen was basically a rookie. He’ll easily be 0.3s quicker now.

        And so what if he beat Ocon? We’re talking about Riccardo been up there with the very best and sneaking some race wins – Ocon’s not in that category.

  12. There’s also this story that Ricciardo isn’t that good in setting-up the car. (A dutch tv host brought that up that some time a go. A McLaren mechanic apparently told him.)

  13. McLaren in the last Grand Prix Shakira Spain Barcelona Catalonia was clearly behind the Mercedes. The update of Mercedes leave clearly behind the McLaren.
    And yes I agree that Mr. D.Ricardo is the first pilot in the team. About pilot L.Norris is a new driver without so many experiences. But his a great talent.

  14. He is over-valued at this point. Waaaay over-valued. Talk about a negative surprise!

  15. I think also, we all underestimate Norris.

    This is because he’s still quite nervy, almost unsure of himself at times – it means we forget that actually he drives superbly at nearly every race.

    Put it this way, I couldn’t see Max or Lewis getting much more out of that car than he does.

    And his tactic of always questioning himself, serves him very well – it means he seeks constant improvement.

    So he’s got talent, youth and a yearning need to be better with an excellent temperament. No wonder he improves so significantly with each half season.

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