Ricciardo suspects driveshaft ended his Saudi GP

Daniel Ricciardo

A suspected driveshaft failure eliminated Daniel Ricciardo from the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Australian rolled to a halt while running 11th on Lap 35, having climbed from 14th on the grid.

His retirement came at a key moment in the race, coinciding with Fernando Alonso striking trouble and Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo Sauber overheating.

“I don’t know, the actual failure yet,” Ricciardo said.

“It could be maybe like a driveshaft or something because the gear would still select, but then I just had no forward movement.”

“So something definitely broke.”

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a better showing for McLaren and Ricciardo, despite the DNF, with the circuit playing more to the strengths of the MCL36.

Opting for a different strategy to the bulk of the field, team boss Andreas Seidl believes Ricciardo would have ended the race on the fringes of the points.

“I think we’ve seen that, in the end, the pace was quite similar between both our cars today,” Seidl said when asked by Speedcafe.com of where Ricciardo might have ended up.

“Lando [Norris] simply had a bit of a tyre advantage with stopping a lot later with hard tyres.

“That why he could also overtake Daniel on track, and we obviously told Daniel not to make it difficult for Lando in order to optimise the team, in order to see if Lando could have a go on Esteban [Ocon].

“But I think Daniel at this point of time definitely had the pace to just keep going together with Lando, and stay in position where he has been.”

Norris ended the race seventh, scoring the team’s first points of 2022, little more than a tenth behind Ocon at the flag.

“Definitely we made a step forward compared to Bahrain,” said Seidl.

“But I think it’s also clear that for the current package that we have here, we know we have a lack of performance.

“The track here was definitely suiting our car more with the medium-high speed corners and I think that’s why we have been more competitive.”

From Ricciardo’s perspective, a lack of straight-line speed hurt his chances in the early stages of the race.

“It was a bit of a train. It felt like we had more pace, but everyone was in a slipstream,” he explained.

“The Astons had really good straight-line speed, I think they ran low downforce, so even though we were quicker through the corners, I couldn’t get him [Lance Stroll].

“So we tried to go early, and we knew that if one hard [set of tyres] died we had another one in case we needed it, just trying to do something from that position.”

McLaren now sits eighth in the championship with six points, while Ricciardo is one of six drivers yet to open their account for the year.

Formula 1 next heads to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix, which runs from April 8-10.

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