McLaren changes needed to make Q3 at Imola

Date published: April 16 2021

Daniel Ricciardo McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo says that McLaren need to make some changes overnight to ensure that they make it to Q3 in qualifying at Imola.

It was a far from ideal Friday for Ricciardo as he finished in P10 in FP1 and down in P18 in the afternoon session after having his best lap-time related for exceeding track limits.

His team-mate, Lando Norris, didn’t do too much better, taking P13 in the morning and P8 in the afternoon.

The Aussie admits that, if they are to make it to Q3 without many problems, a lot of works needs to be done overnight.

“We’ll work tonight. We’ve got our engineering debrief in a few minutes so yeah I think we’ll spend a fair bit of time trying to figure out what we were missing today,” he told Sky Sports.

“I think, to comfortably put ourselves in Q3 tomorrow, we do need to make some changes, we’re not really there yet.

“Saying that, it’s a cool track, I still had fun, but obviously I want to find some competitiveness.”

The McLaren did look stronger on longer runs with more fuel in the car, being closer to the likes of Ferrari and AlphaTauri.

However, given how hard it is to pass cars at Imola, Ricciardo is still prioritising one-lap pace with his setup.

“It is really tricky to overtake here and we can’t afford to put ourselves too far in the pack after tomorrow afternoon,” he added.

“So yeah, it’s all well and good maybe being a bit quicker on high fuel but we certainly tonight – at least from my side, it’s definitely all the focus on one-lap performance.

“Try and qualify there and be there and, a bit like last year for me, we were there when it mattered and it put us on the podium so yeah, I think tomorrow afternoon is very important.”

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Some changes have been made to the circuit in an effort to provide more overtaking opportunities than last year’s race, with the big one being the extension of the DRS zone.

Ricciardo is a fan of this, and is already sniffing out opportunities in the final sector.

“They’ve certainly done a good thing by extending the DRS zone this year by 100 odd metres I think it is,” he said.

“It’s going to help. It is still tricky but I think we saw today Turn 18, I think it is the last corner, a lot of cars making mistakes. I nearly had a spin there.

“So it is a tricky corner, so in the race, you can put the pressure on someone, they can make a mistake and you can get a move done.”

While some may have been surprised to see Ferrari so competitive in practice, Norris was not one of them.

“In Bahrain they were definitely quicker than us in the majority of corners – not all of them – but here they look very quick,” he told Sky Sports.

“I don’t think it’s something we didn’t expect. Maybe they’re a bit quicker than we expected, but we knew some races they’d be ahead and some races we’d be ahead.

“It’s Ferrari, if there’s one team at the moment that’s going to make a big improvement somewhere it’s them.

“So it’s not a surprise. Maybe that little bit faster than we anticipated, but not a shock.”

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