F1 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix Baku Daniel Ricciardo Position McLaren Team Controls Lando Norris Result
Daniel Ricciardo finished eighth in a much improved performance at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that arguably could have been even better if his own team hadn’t retained him.
Max Verstappen won the race ahead of Sergio Perez and George Russell as both Ferraris suffered engine failures and were forced to retire.
Starting 12th on the grid, Ricciardo had an excellent first stint on hard tires and was significantly faster than Norris on medium.
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Ricciardo wanted to pass Norris so he could pass Fernando Alonso in front, but McLaren ordered him to back off and not pass Norris given their different strategies.
“If it’s his best rhythm, I have more,” Ricciardo told team radio.
He later added, “If I sit around any longer, I’m going to get devoured by (Pierre) Gasly.”
Norris eventually pulled away as he pitted but, by then, Ricciardo’s tires were wearing and he had lost most of his speed advantage. He was soon overtaken by Gasly and Lewis Hamilton.
“Retaining Daniel Ricciardo hasn’t paid off for McLaren,” said Sky Sports commentator Paul di Resta.
“What could Daniel have done if he had been dropped on the hard tire when it was the fastest tire at the start?”
Ricciardo managed to stay ahead of Norris by making his only mid-race pit stop during a virtual safety car period.
Norris caught up with Ricciardo and had better pace in the closing stages of the race, but this time it was the young Briton who was ordered not to overtake his team-mate.
Norris eventually finished a place behind Ricciardo in ninth, but made it clear on team radio that he was not overly impressed with McLaren’s instructions.
“Of course it’s a race and I want to finish eighth,” Norris said after the race.
“I understand (the decision) but at the same time we are here to run. I think we know that. I won’t say anything because it’s just I think what we did.
“Just to finish the race, you want to run to finish. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was eighth or ninth, but as a driver you just want to be further up front.
Norris thought there was “a little difference between what happens in the middle of the race, just fighting for the finishing position when there is no risk at the end.”
“I think the team did a good job, I’m happy with that, nothing to complain about,” he said.
Norris no doubt briefly blurted out his true feelings in a separate interview with F1when he pointed out that he had been held back longer by Ricciardo.
“Daniel helped me in the middle, it was a lap where he wasn’t allowed to pass me,” he said. “If the favor of the comeback is not passing him at all in the last three laps, I guess I have to accept that.”
Nevertheless, he added: “I think it was right, I don’t think what we did was wrong. It’s just that you run, you always want to push, you always want to find what the limit is.
“I could have finished eighth if I had been more rebellious, but I accept what we did as a team.”
F1 fans were convinced McLaren’s team orders were stitching up Ricciardo when he arguably could have finished fifth had he been given the chance to push when he had the pace.
Ricciardo said he would have liked the opportunity to attack Alonso early in the race, but the team’s orders leveled off at the end.
“Happy to be back in the points,” he said.
“Obviously you want to be faster, but as a team I think we maximized what we could do.
“Obviously we played around with the team orders a bit. I think in the end he sort of neutralized himself and I don’t think we could have attacked Fernando differently.
“At the start of the course I felt I could attack and I obviously wanted to, but I had to obey and control myself. But those are things you talk about before the race so it’s not a shock or a surprise.
“With two or three laps to go, I was told we were going to hold our positions, so I guess the favor was returned to me.
“We’ll probably talk about it now… but happy to be back in the points and both cars. On a weekend where we struggled with the general rhythm as a team, we’re happy with that.
It was only the second time Ricciardo had finished in the top 10 this season and he said the result was promising given his recent struggles.
“Happy to be back in the points for sure,” he said.
“I know I’m not perfect with this car yet but I think we made a very good step this weekend.
Former world champion Damon Hill said the result was “just what the doctor ordered” for Ricciardo.
di Resta added: “Formula 1 needs Daniel in there. He’s such a key figure in the paddock when he drives like that.
“You want Daniel to build momentum into next weekend as well.”