POLL: Has Ricciardo made the right move?
By Mat Coch
Monday 29th March, 2021 - 2:00pm
Daniel Ricciardo finished seventh in the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix, his first race with McLaren.
With team-mate Lando Norris fourth and his former squad Alpine failing to score points, in this week’s Pirtek Poll we want to know if you think he’s made the right move.
McLaren showed strongly during pre-season testing and backed up that pace in the early running in Bahrain.
Norris was fastest on Friday, while the experienced Ricciardo continued to ease his way into his new surrounds.
On Saturday, he gave a glimpse of what McLaren is in for this season as he recorded the sixth fastest time in qualifying, one spot up from his stable-mate.
By contrast, Alpine’s Esteban Ocon found himself on the sidelines after the opening 18-minute phase of qualifying.
The squad’s other driver, Fernando Alonso, last the duration of the elimination session and recorded the ninth best time.
In the race, Ricciardo faded for reasons the team is yet to understand, leaving the Australian unimpressed with his result.
However, team principal Andreas Seidl was happy with what he saw from his new driver, and the potential he offers alongside Norris in the coming season.
Speaking ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Sky Sports reporter Ted Kravitz suggested the switch to McLaren was something of a sideways step – a decision made because Mercedes and Red Bull weren’t options.
McLaren had, of course, attempted to lure him over for 2019, but at that time the team was still in the midst of a rebuilding phase.
Arguably, it still is, though the appointment of Seidl (who joined the team just under a year ago) is one of the key reasons Ricciardo joined.
Renault, now Alpine, is arguably at a similar point in its current F1 journey, though things have undergone rather more change over the off-season.
Last year’s team boss, Cyril Abiteboul, has left and the squad is now headed by a triumvirate; Laurent Rossi, Marcin Budkowski, and the highly rated Davide Brivio.
It’s a complicated structure unlike anything else in F1.
There’s no hiding from the fact that, in Bahrain, McLaren drew first blood on track.
However, with pre-season testing and the opening race having both taken on the same circuit it offers a somewhat one dimensional picture.
Next up is the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, which will be held at Imola, a sweeping circuit markedly different to the comparatively stop-start Bahrain layout.
Who is to say the McLaren MCL35M is going to be a better car there than the Alpine A521 Ricciardo could have been driving had he stayed put?
What we do know is that the midfield battle is hotly contested, and that Ricciardo has slotted into McLaren well.
He’s not yet getting the best out of the car as he continues to familiarise himself in his new surrounds, but got off to a promising start.
The key question, and one which can only conclusively be answered at year end, is whether his McLaren defection was a step forward.
On the admittedly limited evidence available thus far, what do you think? Has Daniel Ricciardo made the right move joining McLaren?