Daniel Ricciardo upstaged at Bahrain Grand Prix by McLaren teammate Lando Norris


If Daniel Ricciardo was under any illusions about the pace of his new teammate at McLaren, Lando Norris set him straight at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.

A fine drive from Norris earned him fourth place, albeit 46 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton’s winning Mercedes, while Ricciardo was seventh, 20 seconds behind his teammate.

That’s an eternity in Formula One and a result Ricciardo will be keen to reverse at Imola next month.

Every driver knows their biggest opponent is their teammate, a statement that’s especially true at the beginning of the season between two equally-matched drivers as they seek to get the upper hand.

Norris is in just his third season of F1 and has only a single podium to his name, yet has already shown enough to suggest he’s a race winner in the right car.

The 21-year-old was the F3 champion in 2017 and the F2 runner-up the following year, so the size of the task facing Ricciardo is considerable, although the Australian’s speed and experience is expected to give him a slight edge over the season.

Ricciardo had the advantage in qualifying in Bahrain, although by the barest of margins; just under half-a-tenth of a second, and that after Norris had showed Ricciardo the way during practice.

That advantage disappeared on the opening lap, with Norris emerging as the lead McLaren, a situation that remained the case for the entire race.

And while Ricciardo remained in touch with his teammate through the first stint, after the opening round of pitstops he found himself dropping slowly but steadily behind.

“The race itself I struggled with pace,” Ricciardo said.

“I wouldn’t say it was a strong race by any means but plenty to work on and learn from.

“Definitely not discouraged, just still definitely some work to do.”

The Australian admits he’s still coming to grips with the McLaren and adjusting his driving style from the Renault he drove last year.

“As the race went on I felt like I was just falling back and back and just struggled to push on the tyre and keep (tyre temperature). I felt like I’ll just cook it,” he said.

“I’m sure there’s still some finessing that I can do with the car and just learn probably what sweet spot I’m after in the set-up.

“I feel like there’s for sure still things to learn. But I’m certainly much closer to where I need to be. It’s just going to take time … but Imola’s next. I like that place and we’ll go fast.”

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