Why Was Daniel Ricciardo Almost a Second Behind Lando Norris in Austrian GP Qualifying?

Published 07/04/2021, 3:16 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 1, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo arrives at the circuit REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger


McLaren F1 team had been yearning to sign Daniel Ricciardo since Fernando Alonso’s exit in 2018, and after a three-year wait, their dream came alive in 2021; the Australian finally gave them the nod.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

And fans predicted Ricciardo would dominate the entire mid-field pack, including his very own teammate, Lando Norris. However, the reality ended up being far from what was initially imagined.

The newly recruited McLaren driver couldn’t break the shackles, with his latest outing at the Austrian Grand Prix proving to be the actual synonym of ‘horror show.’

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Formula One F1 – Austrian Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – July 2, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo during practice REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

While Norris carried McLaren to their first front-row start in nine years, there was Ricciardo, who couldn’t even save his car from exiting Q2. Such was the difference between the duo, and the numbers are only making it look far worse.

Ricciardo’s fastest Q2 lap time, 1:04:719 was 0.949s slower than Norris’ Q3 lap time. Hence, considering the gap was around 1 second, one might wonder whether Ricciardo messed up his final Q2 run, which may have prevented him from getting into Q3.

Did Daniel Ricciardo make mistakes in Q2?

Of course, a Ricciardo fan would hope that the Australian made a mistake in his Q2 run. However, that isn’t quite the case, unfortunately. Moreover, he reckoned his lap was perfect and claimed he had no explanation for his Q2 exit.

Unfortunately, a similar result to last week. It did feel better, but it’s just not translating into lap time,” he said. “I was pretty happy with the laps. I felt like I’d done quite well but I was still half a second off.”

This leaves us with a couple of possible explanations for Ricciardo’s McLaren struggles. One, Ricciardo is just slow, which isn’t necessarily the case, considering his past teammate battles at Renault and Red Bull.

Formula One F1 – Steiermark Grand Prix – Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Styria, Austria – June 26, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo during qualifying REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

The other explanation is that Norris is constantly punching above his weight, delivering excessive results for his team, which seems far more practical. Moreover, Norris‘ three-year relationship with McLaren clearly is playing a helping hand in beating Ricciardo, who is more like a ‘new kid in town’.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Of course, it’s only the eighth race weekend into the season, and there’s still a long way to go. So, Ricciardo has significant time in hand to push for a comeback after the tough start.

But, can he make it happen over the race at the Austrian Grand Prix? He may be down at P13, but with a pacy car in hand and free tire choice. So, conditions are still pointing towards easy points finish for the Australian on Sunday afternoon.

ADVERTISEMENT

Article continues below this ad

Watch Story: Biggest Crashes From 2020 Featuring Leclerc, Vettel & Grosjean

SHARE THIS ARTICLE :

Rohit Kumar

948 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT