Damage limitation for McLaren in Baku
By Mat Coch
Monday 7th June, 2021 - 11:26am
A double-points paying result in the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix was damage limitation for McLaren as it ceded third place in the constructors’ fight to Ferrari.
Lando Norris finished fifth in the 51-lap encounter, while Daniel Ricciardo picked up two points for ninth, the pair having started ninth and 13th respectively.
Charles Leclerc was the leading Ferrari driver home in fourth, with Carlos Sainz in eighth ensuring the Scuderia amassed 16 points versus McLaren’s 12.
It resulted in McLaren’s two-point championship advantage becoming a deficit after six races.
“If you’re starting P9 and P13, then finishing in P5 and P9, just one position each behind the Ferraris is clearly a damage limitation,” said team principal Andreas Seidl.
“In the end, we need to finish higher up on Saturday, then our Sunday is a lot easier, because I think we had the pace today to run further at the front.
“But soon as you were in the train today, there was not a lot you could really do.
“Again, good job from both drivers and the team to keep their head down, calm, in a tricky race.”
It could have easily been worse, with Max Verstappen crashing out in the closing laps before an error from Lewis Hamilton saw the Mercedes driver fall out of the points.
Both Ricciardo and Norris were promoted two positions as a consequence, in the former’s case moving him into the points.
“If it would have been a normal race, it’s clear that Mercedes and Red Bull is gone,” Seidl said when asked by Speedcafe.com whether it was a fortuitous result.
“But I think if it would have been a flat out race, it could have been very interesting with the tyre degradation of the Ferraris, for example.
“So difficult to say what would have been possible in a normal race, and also difficult to say what would have been possible if we would have finished yesterday in quali where we should have been in terms of car performance.
“But in the end, that doesn’t count.
“You need to get it together on Saturday and then Sunday, and that’s what you have to work for.
“Then you get the results you deserve as a team.”
Along with inheriting ninth place courtesy of Verstappen and Hamilton, Ricciardo was tagged heavily at the red flag restart on Lap 50.
“There were moments today in the race where I was thinking ‘I hope it becomes a bit more exciting’ and suddenly it did,” he said.
“We had some positive moments, but also a few difficult periods.
“I flat-spotted the hard a bit, so that became tricky for the last few laps before the red flag, but not too bad beforehand.
“The last start, I felt like I got a good launch, and had a good run on the outside but there wasn’t really much room with a couple of cars on the inside.
“It just all bottlenecked into Turn 2 and I felt a hit from behind.
“I couldn’t really do much, but we’ll keep working on our plan and keep moving forward.”
Ricciardo has now slipped to 10th in the drivers’ championship with 26 points.
He’s now 40 points in arrears of team-mate Norris, who in turn slipped to fourth as race winner Sergio Perez rose to third.
Formula 1 heads next to Paul Ricard for the French Grand Prix on 18-20.