Daniel Ricciardo has revealed his frustration over a misfiring start at McLaren after finishing ninth in the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo scored points after starting from 16th on the grid, thanks to a nightmare in qualifying, yet trailed his younger teammate Lando Norris for a third consecutive race.
He also trailed both cars of his old team, with Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso seventh and eighth respectively for Alpine (formerly Renault). Dual world champion Alonso, 39, passed Ricciardo late in the race.
The Australian, a seven-time grand prix winner, has struggled to adjust to his new car after switching from Renault for this season.
“It was a better race – well, better than yesterday (qualifying). It was hard to do worse than yesterday, so everything I planned to happen in the race or execute, I was more or less able to do,” Ricciardo said post-race.
“I certainly still woke up frustrated this morning, you’ve got to clear it from your mind. Obviously what’s done is done.
“It’s hard to shake. Obviously you just believe in yourself and when you know what you’re capable of and you don’t execute, it breaks you.
“We get 20-something chances a year, it’s actually not that much; so when you don’t get it right, even waiting seven days [for the next race], it’s a long time to live with it.
“Today was certainly a better day. I was able to do what I set out to do and overtake some cars, have some battles and get rid of some anger from yesterday, so that was good.
“I think there were moments of the race that were really positive and having got another race distance under me, I feel like I’ve got quite a bit of feedback for the team. I definitely feel some things which are holding me back in terms of what I want to do with the car, and every time I try it, it doesn’t quite hold on.
“So, I think there are some things we can immediately address with the set-up, and then with some updates to come.”
Ricciardo said that he was still on a learning curve with his car but remained confident in his ability.
“As a driver, you know inside you when you’re driving with confidence and if it’s kind of flowing,” Ricciardo said.
“And Friday [practice] did feel like that. Definitely more so than previous.
“I think today there were moments of speed and moments of not quite there but I think I took a lot from this week’s race.”
While Ricciardo was putting on a brace face, 2016 F1 world champion Nico Rosberg claimed that the Aussie was mentally in “a deep hole” from which is would be tough to escape.
“Daniel is smiling there but believe me, within him, it’s one of the most difficult moments he has ever faced in his career,” Rosberg said.
“We’re coming off Imola where he was lacking pace and his team told him, ‘You’re too slow’, in other words, please let Lando pass. That’s a really hard moment.
“And then coming here and he’s one second off Lando in qualifying, finishing 16th.”
Rosberg said that Ricciardo was “one of the most talented drivers out there, so one has to assume that it’s a matter of time that he’s going to get into it and dial into the car”. McLaren is taking the same attitude.
“Me and Andreas [Seidl, team principal] went to see him, and were just like, ‘Hey man, you’ve won seven grands prix, you’re awesome, you’ve got to get used to the car’,” McLaren boss Zak Brown said.
“Don’t be a hero in round one and just build up to it and he’ll get there. He’s in a good spot.”
While Ricciardo is struggling, Norris is flying. The Briton is third in the drivers’ standings, against Ricciardo’s seventh, and has McLaren third in the constructors’ championship. His confidence is soaring.
“Confidence is definitely at an all-time high, not just on track but in the paddock, working in the team. They’re doing a great job, so confidence in myself and confidence in the team,” Norris told Sky F1.
“Things are going well, but they can quickly go in the wrong direction so we’ve got to keep working and keep pushing hard.
“A good few laps, a lot of wheel-to-wheel action. Would have been nice to stay ahead of the Red Bulls because we’re there on merit, we raced ahead of them, but we don’t have the pace to stay ahead.”
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