McLaren duo share thoughts on Baku team orders

Henry Valantine
McLaren drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris. Baku June 2022.

Daniel Ricciardo leads Lando Norris through the castle section in qualifying. Azerbaijan June 2022.

McLaren drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris were both held back by team orders at different points in Baku, but Ricciardo felt they “neutralised” over the course of proceedings on Sunday.

Ricciardo was instructed to hold station behind Norris in the early stages of the race, believing he had more pace to offer on his hard tyres compared to Norris on the mediums at the time.

The Australian felt he had more pace within himself at the time and showed restraint in avoiding attacking his team-mate, and felt Norris played the team game in staying behind come the chequered flag, with Ricciardo finishing eighth on the day in an upturn compared to his recent form.

“I mean at the beginning of course I was feeling like I could attack and obviously wanted to, but had to obviously obey and control myself,” Ricciardo told Sky F1.

“But these are things also we talk about before the race so it’s not a shock or a surprise. But then yeah, I think with two or three laps to go, I was told that we were going to hold position. So I guess the let’s say the favour got returned.

“So yeah, we’ll probably talk more about it now, but happy to be back in the points and [with] both cars I think on a weekend where we struggled with overall pace as a team. We’re happy with that.”

Towards the end of the race, the tables were turned as Norris was closing up behind Ricciardo, who in turn was trying to fight Fernando Alonso in front.

He could not get close to the Alpine driver however, with Alonso’s top speed being the highest of the field enabled him to keep the McLaren driver outside DRS range.

Norris felt he would have had a good opportunity to battle Alonso himself, making his feelings clear over team radio that he wanted to be allowed past his team-mate late on.

But ultimately, P9 for Norris was the sum of his afternoon, and believes the team made the right call to keep things as they were, as much as his racing instincts told him otherwise.

“The end is just racing for pure position,” Norris said. “It’s not like he let me go or whatever. I think there’s one lap before I boxed that he would have passed me, so I understand that but at the same time we need to race and I think we know that.

“I’m not going to say anything because it’s fair I think what we did. Just to end the race, you want to race to finish and wouldn’t matter if it’s eighth or ninth.

“But as a driver you just want to be that further ahead position so it’s quite simple, but I think there’s a small difference between what happens in the middle of the race and just fighting for a finish position when there’s no risk at the end.

“So yeah, the team did a good job. I’m happy with that. So nothing to complain about.”