After both McLarens finished in the top six, Daniel Ricciardo admitted he was happy to avoid a “painful” weekend in Melbourne.
Having been well off the pace in Bahrain, Ricciardo retired in Jeddah and team-mate Lando Norris worked with McLaren’s improved pace to take the team’s first points of the year.
But the layout at Albert Park suited both drivers and their car well, with the pair capitalising on Max Verstappen’s retirement to take P5 amd P6 respectively – with Ricciardo instructed to “be sensible” behind Norris, hinting at team orders between the two at the end of the race.
An 18-point haul was a sign of progress from McLaren, and the Australian was happy to see the team’s fortunes improve at his home race.
“All weekend it’s just been a step in the right direction,” said Ricciardo, quoted by Formula1.com. “A few weeks ago in Bahrain, many home fans were thinking, ‘oh no, this is maybe going to be a painful home race for Daniel’, but it was really nice to have such a quick turnaround.
“The team certainly found a bit in the last few weeks and that’s been really nice and encouraging, so steps, big steps in the right direction. We will keep at it, keep chipping away. As always, still things to improve.”
With the amount of improvement shown at McLaren, despite Norris’ protestations that their speed was more circuit than car-related, Ricciardo was happy for a “smooth” weekend to get his season up and running in earnest.
Having finally been able to race at home as well, he left Melbourne satisfied.
“I’m happy with the progress and, as a team result, I think we executed everything we could,” Ricciardo said. “I think the first part of the race was positive, but there is still a bit to work on. Probably in that second stint I lost a little bit of pace on the hard tyre.
“It came back to me a little bit – but we still have a bit of understanding to do. I’ll keep working at it but generally, as a whole, the weekend’s been smooth.
“I’m happy to walk away with my first points of the year at home, which is also nice for the all the fans who came out here, so I’m feeling pretty content.
“We leave Melbourne in good spirits, which feels nice as it’s probably been four years since I left here in good spirits.”