Ricciardo unhappy with ‘clear’ McLaren strategy error

Henry Valantine
Daniel Ricciardo answers questions at Sochi. September 2021.

Daniel Ricciardo speaks to the media in the paddock at Sochi.

Daniel Ricciardo said he was adamant about changing onto intermediate tyres, but his stop came too late to make an impact at the end.

Rain fell in the closing stages of a dramatic Russian Grand Prix on Sunday, with drivers taking varying approaches surrounding when to switch onto wet-weather tyres.

Unlike team-mate Lando Norris, whose probable race win was scuppered by pitting too late after he opted to stay out, Ricciardo had been wanting to come in earlier to try and take advantage of those faltering around him.

The running order mixed up significantly at the end of the race and Ricciardo wound up finishing P4 on the road, and he remains convinced that pitting earlier than he did was the right thing to do.

“I’ve only heard through media [about] Lando’s race, but I speak purely on my race or my feeling,” the Australian told Sky Sports F1. “I think that one, I’m asking the pit wall if the rain’s getting heavier because this part of the track [start/finish straight] was more or less dry, it was the far part which was wet.

“We are the best reference for that. So I said, Turn 5, Turn 7, I can’t keep it on the track anymore so, for me, it was clear: I said I need to come in [for] the inter.

“Turn 7, I went off nearly close to the wall, so it wasn’t even a question for me. I told the guys I needed inters. I think, normally, we are the best judge for that because we are the ones feeling the track, but again, I’m not speaking about Lando’s situation but at least for me today, it was clear. And in hindsight, one lap earlier was even better.

“We still probably didn’t perfect it, but I think it was still the right call.”

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Having won the last round of the World Championship at Monza, Norris had been on track to potentially make it two victories in a row for McLaren prior to his race being derailed at the end.

With that, Ricciardo believes there is reason for optimism within the team as they look to continue their progress, but they still have things to iron out as they improve.

“From a team point of view, I think there’s encouragement with performance,” he said. “Obviously there could have been more points today, but we’ll keep looking at it.

“I think recently, some moments were good, some moments not so, so I’m still eager to find the speed in the car. I don’t think it was as comfortable a weekend as Monza, certainly a bit more tricky, and a big compromise for Friday, so I don’t think we really got back on top of it.

“We’ll try to keep working on it.”