Ricciardo labels French GP a ‘dream race’
By Mat Coch
Tuesday 22nd June, 2021 - 7:40am
Daniel Ricciardo has branded the outcome of the Formula 1 French Grand Prix a “dream race” after finishing in sixth place.
With Lando Norris fifth, and neither Ferrari scoring points, it was arguably the strongest result McLaren could have hoped for heading into the weekend.
“Definitely a positive Sunday. I think it was the race we were hoping for but not the one we expected,” Ricciardo said.
“I don’t think we expected our closest competitor to score no points, and for us to be the best of the midfield with both cars.
“That was our dream race and we managed to pull it off.
Sixth in Paul Ricard came at the end of a solid weekend which saw him feature in all three segments of qualifying.
It marked something of a return to form after tough results in Monaco and Azerbaijan which netted just two (somewhat fortuitous) points courtesy of ninth place at the latter event.
“I think it’s just a continuation of the journey he is in together with us,” McLaren boss Andreas Seidl said when asked about Speedcafe.com about Ricciardo’s French GP performance.
“We could see already in the race in Baku that he made a good step and unfortunately had the crash in qualifying.
“But now definitely was a good weekend for the team, obviously a good weekend for Daniel being back in Quali 3 and having this strong drive [on Sunday], showing that the approach we took as a team together with him is paying off.”
Ricciardo’s finishing position, which saw him some 10 seconds down on team-mate Norris at the chequered flag, was largely a result of strategy.
McLaren boxed the Australian first, which saw him make strong ground in the laps immediately after his stop but struggled by comparison with the sister car in the latter stages.
That saw Norris pass the seven-time grand prix winner on track, a move Seidl noted did not come with any instruction from the team.
“No, as long as they fight for positions and there’s not a clear difference in strategy we let them race,” Seidl said.
“That’s the agreement we have with both drivers within the guidelines.
“I think also if you look at the time when Lando was overtaking Daniel, it was clear that lane had this advantage of 10 laps fresher tyres,” he added.
“So Daniel also didn’t make it hard for Lando to pass because it was clear that Lando simply add an advantage [in] how the race played out in terms of strategy.”
While happy with the team’s result, Ricciardo was not entirely satisfied with his car.
“I was struggling from the laps to grid and then for the whole race,” he explained.
“But it felt like everyone else, besides Lando, was struggling more.
“It was a fun race and I’m happy we brought it home in fifth and sixth for the team.
“It’s about time we got back in these positions, so it was a positive day.”
McLaren now holds a 16-point advantage over Ferrari after reclaiming third in the constructors’ championship off the back of the French GP result.
Formula 1 now moves immediately to the Red Bull Ring for the Styrian Grand Prix, opening practice for which begins on Friday at 19:30 AEST.