McLaren, Yas Marina, 2022

McLaren’s failure to take fourth not just down to Ricciardo’s struggles – Seidl

2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl says the team missing out on fourth in the constructors’ standings cannot be pinned solely on Daniel Ricciardo’s failure to match team mate Lando Norris.

Alpine beat McLaren to fourth place by 14 points. While Norris out-scored both Alpine drivers this year, and was the only driver outside of the top three to stand on the podium, Ricciardo endured another difficult season which led to his earlier departure from the team. Norris scored over three times as many points as him.

However Seidl said he’s “far away from just blaming the situation with Daniel for almost scoring P4 this year.”

“In the end, I’m aware as well about my responsibility and the team’s responsibility in order not to get it [to] work together with Daniel in the way we were hoping for, despite great commitment that was done on Daniel’s side and on our side,” he explained.

“That’s then, in the end, part of not scoring the points as a team that you wanted to score, or could have scored, [and is] typically part of the sport as well. And that’s something that we’ll try to address or improve for next year.”

Seidl said 2022 felt “like a step backwards compared to previous seasons” and McLaren deserved to finish fifth as “Alpine did a better job”. However he also believes there were “a lot of positives” from “where we made steps forward.”

“First of all, if you just look at ourselves, it’s almost one of the positives this season that we were the only team to score a podium apart from the top three teams,” he commented.

“So it was a positive outcome that Lando could actually score P7, which means he was, let’s say, best of the drivers that were not within the top three teams. Which shows again that Lando was doing an impressive season, even if the highlight results haven’t been there because he didn’t have the car this year.”

“I see that we are moving in the right direction because, as I said before, again there’s a lot of different topics within the team back home, also out here on the race team side where I see that we made steps forward,” he added.

Despite the pressures of F1’s cost cap , Seidl said the team hired more engineers during 2022, which was important to overcoming the braking problems and other setbacks they encountered after turning up to the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix with a car that was less competitive than they expected.

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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28 comments on “McLaren’s failure to take fourth not just down to Ricciardo’s struggles – Seidl”

  1. It is, though:

    122 pts – Lando Norris
    037 pts – Daniel Ricciardo

    1. Exactly. Very nice of him to say so.

    2. @proesterchen Exactly right. Only at Alfa Romeo is the points distribution between teammates more lopsided than at McLaren.

      In other words: Ricciardo did worse relative to his teammate than Latifi, Stroll, Schumacher, and Tsunoda. He only did better than Zhou, who is a rookie up against a race winner who came 3rd in the WDC the previous season. Granted: he did a lot better than Zhou, but still.

      1. As I recall, zhou also had a lot of mechanical problems early on, he could never finish a race.

        1. Zhou had a bad run early on, true, but he only had two DNFs in the races the Bottas scored points. Usually he was just a bit behind and thus out of the points. Which isn’t totally fair since F1 apparently thinks coming 11th is just as cool as coming 19th, so based on places in which drivers were classified, Zhou was just over 2 places behind Bottas on average while Ricciardo was about four behind Norris.

  2. It is hardly ever just one thing. But here you have maybe the best driver of the year (would love to see what Lando can do in a top machine) with one of the worst. And I do not dislike Dan, but, sorry he’s been awful this year.

  3. Well, factually it was. If Ricciardo could have figured out the car and was anywhere near Norris it would have been an easy fourth. He says they’ve taken a step backwards, but are moving in the right direction. A step backwards isn’t moving in the right direction…

    Question is now whether Piastri can turn things around to get them P4, or perhaps even better if they are capable of providing a better car. If they’re still muddling around, the hard question will be whether the capability is within the technical team there.

  4. It’s not just down to Ricciardo’s struggles but that certainly played a large part in it. Now obviously there’s more to Ricciardo struggling than “he’s now a bad driver.” Clearly there was something about the McLaren that didn’t suit his driving style and McLaren never seemed to manage to get on top of that. Perhaps improving the car for Ricciardo would have made things worse for Lando?

    Ultimately, their car just wasn’t good enough. I think the Alpine was generally faster but Lando did a great job to finish ahead of Alonso and Ocon. Even then, he only finished 30 points ahead of Ocon – he was 118 points behind Lewis who was the next driver in the standings. They are much further away from competing at the front than they were in 2021.

    1. Clearly there was something about the McLaren that didn’t suit his driving style and McLaren never seemed to manage to get on top of that. Perhaps improving the car for Ricciardo would have made things worse for Lando?

      If you look back at comments Lando made about Ricciardo’s struggles he pointed out that the car wasn’t what he wanted either, but he sort of reacted to the strange behaviour and managed to get something out of it.
      Not what he wanted to get, but something passable.

  5. They may not be entirely due to Ricciardo, but as others have noted, if he had scored even just half as many points as Lando they would have taken 4th. Ricciardo scored 30% of points that Lando scored. No other driver pairing had a difference as large as that. The next closest was at Haas, with Mick scoring 48% of the points that Kevin scored.

    As was noted yesterday with Alonso and Ocon, not everything is captured in the point totals every time. Still, in this case, I seem to recall Lando and Ricciardo having pretty similar reliability this year. I could be mistaken though.

  6. Seidl is very nice when he said that but that’s not the truth !!

  7. If, If, If,…. and if Alonso had 1, 2 or 3 fewer car failures, they would have been many more points ahead of McLaren and probably ahead of Ocon too.

    If

  8. I agree, nice thing to say but not so honest.

  9. It was a tough season for the mid field due to the incredible reliability of the top 3 teams locking out the big points most races. Consistency of scoring lower down the top 10 was key to 4th place and ricciardo was just never there when it was needed. But it’s a team sport, and they did put him on some iffy strategies sometimes.

  10. I think Seidl has a very good point

    It’s all too easy to blame Daniel, after all, it was his lack of points that cost them 4th

    But it’s also to easy to forget that Daniel is a to class racer, who for some reason couldn’t get on with McLaren, at best, midfield car

    Midfield for a reason, it has flaws. If McLaren could have produced a car that was capable at challenging at the front, I have no doubt RIC would have been there challenging along with Lando

    I have to believe that, as the alternative simply has to be that Lando is not just the super talented young man that he is, but actually a super-human driving a rubbish car far beyond its capabilities in anyone else’s hands. He’s super good, but he ain’t good!

    1. I think Ricciardo has always erred on the side of caution (99% vs 99.8%) & doesn’t push a car past where it begins to feel unstable. When Max was much faster than him it was often just before he had an incident. Obviously he’s always relied heavily on his confidence in braking ability/stability of the car (the occasional venture to > 99.9%) – more about track position rather than lap speed.
      They’ve all said it – the McLaren isn’t stable at their opponent’s lap speed and Lando is talented enough and happy to drive it above Ricciardo’s threshold while rarely suffered consequences for it – he’s certainly a talent.
      Their pitwall certainly could have done a better job getting Ricciardo up the table on quite a few occasions that come to mind – Spa stands out but similar happened – too often for me to not half expect the next one each race. Seidl bears responsibility for that the way Binotto does.

  11. It’s Daniel’s fault they did not get P4. Period.

    However, it’s McLaren’s fault that for the tenth season in a row they have not built a car capable of battling for the world championship. Let’s be very clear about that.

    Because, who cares about P4? This used to be a team that was fighting for P1 year-after-year and would have considered P2 a loss. They shouldn’t be disappointed they lost P4. They should be disappointed they lost P1, again. I feel like they have grown a bit of a losers mentality ever since Ron left. He would never have accepted P4 as a goal.

    1. The Alpine/McLaren battle was the most interesting in the last part of the season.

  12. Ricciardo was so bad – but can be still used as a stick for Perez.

  13. It’s probably fair to say Ricciardo got on with the McLaren just fine in Mexico when he was furious at a stewards decision. Suddenly we say Danny Ric, last of the late brakers. Perhaps the missing edge was that little bit of red mist?

    1. You may be right, Dan seems to have gone too complacent. He should not have lost his ability so fast.

  14. Astonishing how many people seem to truly believe that driver/engineer/car/team relationships come second to basic driver ‘skill’ or ability to adapt.

    Newsflash – everyone is adapting all the time. Some just get the luxury or things lining up together to create a more comfortable and conducive condition, while others don’t.

    Look at how the dynamic in Red Bull changed throughout the season, if you aren’t sure. Perez and Verstappen were pretty equal at the beginning of the year, then car development went in Verstappen’s direction and the results followed.
    McLaren had already decided Norris is their future….. Sorry Ricciardo, the cars isn’t yours.

    1. Norris doesn’t like the car either. He complained about that some length in his recent chat with the official F1 podcast.

      When so many drivers have an issue with the car, it’s not just on them. Especially when said people include F1 and F2 race winners and champions. McLaren has an engineering issue; their cars aren’t just too slow, they’re also built in a way that makes them unstable and tricky to work with.

      1. Sure – Norris may not like the car either. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suit him better than it did Ricciardo.

  15. Ricciardo’s struggle is a symptom not a cause, it is a symptom of a team that hasn’t been able to design a truly competitive car since spygate.

    Since the hybrid era Mclaren has been a mediocre team, midfield. Coincidentally, the same period that Ron Dennis left, the manufacturing side of Mclaren got into financial problems and down it slid.

    This season they couldn’t get something as fundamental as the brakes right. The car understeers alot, and isn’t loose at the back, all indicators of an inherently slow car.
    Lando might be able to adapt, but that car is everything an F1 car shouldn’t be.
    There is no surprise that a driver like Ricciardo isn’t able to adapt to car that is counter intuitive to drive.

    1. Agreed, the late braking style of Daniel and the understeering MCL36 never meshed. As a late breaker Daniel’s advantage was to consistently brake later than the braking point to gain and carry the speed advantage. The downside to his style and MCL36 is that it tended to unsettle the car, overheat the brakes and tyres, and leave little margin for error. If he gets it wrong, or gets forced off the racing line, then whatever speed advantage he had is quickly lost coming out of the apex. With less power and traction in the MCL36, the loss in momentum would cost him as much as a second a lap.

      IMO his best race at the Mexican GP resulted McLaren increasing local load at the rear of the car specifically for the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. They made other changes to the rear brake duct aero to help with brake cooling. These changes worked to create more downforce and cooling complimenting Daniel’s late braking. He was able to keep the tires and brakes in the correct window, and with more downforce in the rear without added drag, he more easily got the car turned in the apex while carrying more speed into the corner.

      At other circuits similar changes for more downforce would create more drag, explaining why Daniel was slower than Lando. With less downforce and less drag, Daniel struggled to get the car slowed in the turns, as he did in the very next race in Brazil, where he took out KMag and himself in turn 8 on the 1st lap. It seems clear that McLaren and Daniel never found the right downforce/drag mix for the MCL36.

  16. It’s Ricciardo’s fault, plain and simple but the bigger question for Mclaren is why they’re fighting for 4th and not 1st and 2nd. In the grand scheme of things finishing 5th or 4th while a mile away from the top 3 cars is a lot bigger issue. If they don’t take a big step forward next year then questions need to be asked of those running the team and whether they’re up to the job of taking the team forward anymore.

  17. Not just down to Ricciardo’s struggles, but nearly entirely so.

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