Point-less in the opening race of the season, Daniel Ricciardo says his Bahrain Grand Prix was more of a test session than a competition.
With Formula 1 introducing all-new cars this season, pre-season testing was more important than ever before. And Ricciardo missed half of it.
The Aussie fell ill in the build-up to the official pre-season test at the Sakhir circuit and, having tested positive for Covid-19, missed all three days of running.
His lack of track time was compounded on the Friday of the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend when a water leak curtailed his running.
He qualified down in 18th place for Sunday’s 57-lap grand prix, lost positions at the start to fall to the very back of the field, and could only work his way up to P14.
But while he did beat his team-mate Lando Norris, the Briton qualifying 13th and finishing 15th, the Bahrain Grand Prix was not the start to the season Ricciardo or McLaren had wanted.
Meanwhile at McLaren, it’s not happy vibes after finishing 14th (Ricciardo) and 15th (Norris) 😬
📸 @Nauckas#F1 #BahrainGP #Autosport pic.twitter.com/yg5lR9AtL6
— Autosport (@autosport) March 20, 2022
“[It was] definitely tricky,” said the eight-time grand prix winner. “I think as well, there is a lot to try and understand. I knew there would be.
“It is the first race distance I have done this year and trying all compounds in the race, I think it was trying to treat it like a test session as well, trying to learn as much as I could each lap.
“Obviously, we are lacking some pace. I think it is general, I don’t think it is necessarily just one area. We lack a little bit of downforce and that is really the key.”
But while Sunday’s result may look bleak from the outside, Ricciardo is adamant all is not lost.
The Aussie feels his MCL36 is not a bad car, it is just lacking in grip and when McLaren resolve that, they’ll be back fighting for points.
“I don’t think the car really feels like it is massively out of balance,” he said.
“I think we are just lacking overall grip. I would say there are positives to take from that.
“If we just find the numbers, that will translate into a decent car, but obviously for now, we don’t have the same numbers as the front teams.”
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