McLaren star Daniel Ricciardo endured a strong start to the 2021 F1 season, but fell behind teammate Lando Norris after a tight opening lap.
The F1 season got off to a flying start with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton edging Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, who was seething at his team, in a thrilling battle to take the Bahrain GP.
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And despite Ricciardo out-qualifying teammate Norris to start in sixth position, Norris was able to overtake Ricciardo in the first lap.
The pair duelled it out before a safety car was introduced when Haas rookie Nikita Mazepin crashed, which saw Norris finish in front.
Norris advanced and finished just outside the podium in fourth, but Ricciardo dropped to seventh after being held in by Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.
The Australian was thrilled with McLaren’s double point finish in the season opener, but admitted he felt quite ‘lonely’ on the track after the car didn’t provide enough for him.
“I think the weekend as a whole, pretty satisfied. The race itself I struggled with pace,” Ricciardo said after the race.
“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.”
When questioned about his battle with Norris, Ricciardo said he enjoyed the duel.
But felt his car needed some ‘finessing’ heading into the next race.
“I actually forgot about that. It was good fun. I think he was about half a car in front when the safety car came out so he obviously got me there.”
“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 it (at optimum temperature). I felt like I’ll just cook it.
“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.”
Verstappen fumes at Red Bull
Red Bull star Verstappen was left fuming at his team after being told to hand the lead back to defending champion Hamilton with just a few laps to go.
Verstappen, who passed Hamilton with four laps to go only to have to hand back the lead for going off the track, finished a mere 0.74 seconds behind after starting on pole position.
The Red Bull driver appeared to have won the race after passing Hamilton around the outside of the fourth turn with just three laps remaining.
But the Dutchman was instructed by his team to give the position back to Hamilton, fearing their star driver would be penalised for running off the track.
Verstappen was furious with the decision, asking his team why they didn’t let him finish the race and try to get far enough away from Hamilton that a five-second penalty wouldn’t have mattered.
“Why didn’t you just let me go, man?” he said on team radio.
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