McLaren boss claims Portimao exaggerates Ricciardo’s struggles

Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl doesn’t believe 16th on the grid is representative of Daniel Ricciardo’s true pace.

The Australian was a high-profile casualty from qualifying, missing the cut at the end of the first segment.

A disappointed Ricciardo suggested he was guilty of overdriving on his best lap in the session, a time which left him 1.1s adrift of team-mate Lando Norris.

According to Seidl, that gap is not representative of the true situation.

“We have seen in the practice session that’s definitely not the gap he’s having to Lando at the moment,” the German said when asked by about Ricciardo’s deficit to Norris.

“He’s just trying to put the lap together and it’s not easy to get the laps in here, with the traffic, with the wind and everything, with the low grip conditions.

“There’s obviously a lot a lot going on and again with the struggles he’s having with our car at the moment this, I think, gets all exaggerated here on this track, and that’s why it ended up like where we ended up today.”

The Portimao circuit was resurfaced prior to Formula 1 visiting the venue last year.

That grand prix offered little grip, a characteristic which has carried over into this season’s event.

It’s seen many opt for two preparation laps before attacking a flying lap in qualifying as they’ve looked to generate tyre temperature and get purchase into the track surface.

“It’s probably easy for me to say because obviously the day wasn’t great, but I guess give me like a one-lap tyre as a preference, and that kind of high grip, high peak situation,” the Australian explained when asked whether he enjoys the low grip challenge.

“The feeling is nice when you’ve got all that load and that grip and downforce, and I guess that’s what that’s what F1 cars do best.

“So they do feel like a little, it’s a very childish word, but like a bit yucky when they’re kind of sliding and snapping,” he added.

“It does make it unpredictable so on one side it’s a challenge and it feels good if you execute it, but I do like that peak of grip and the kind of ripping your neck off g-force kind of feeling.”

While Ricciardo is battling, Seidl is not panicking.

“It’s minor things that probably get exaggerated in low grip conditions like we have them here, and like we also had them in Imola with the drying track,” he said.

“I think he [Ricciardo] made a good step forward when we look at the practice sessions here.

“Yesterday and today, unfortunately in qualifying it did not work out today, but again, just the more laps, more time and I have no doubt it will come.”

He did, however, suggest that part of Ricciardo’s struggles were a result of confidence in the car.

“I think it just snowballs into more lap time deficit than when you don’t feel that comfortable with pushing a car to the limit,” reasoned Seidl.

With Ricciardo set to line up 16th and Norris seventh, Seidl did admit he felt the team should have achieved more in qualifying.

“We didn’t have in mind today qualifying to finish in P7 and P16, because also on Lando’s side, if you look at what he could do in Q2 in terms of lap time, we definitely had the car with Lando to finish some positions higher up,” he suggested.

“He got caught out by, I think it was Seb[astian Vettel] in the last corner, nearly coming to a halt letting Max [Verstappen] by and then Lando [Norris] didn’t have a gap that you need in order to do a competitive lap here.

“That’s why we were disappointed definitely after qualifying, in addition to the disappointment on Daniel’s side.

“It’s important now to put the disappointment behind us again, to reset and then we go into Sunday again with the clear objective to move forward with both cars because what we have seen today, we definitely can do that.”

Race start is due at midnight (AEST).

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