Daniel Ricciardo’s race was destroyed as he was attempting to “send it” on lap one, but went too far and into Valtteri Bottas. A first-lap incident he admitted is as painful as they get.
The stars just didn’t align for McLaren for the 2021 Mexico City Grand Prix, and Ricciardo, being their best hope of scoring points during the race, took himself out of point-scoring contention after overshooting his braking point at Turn 1 on the first lap, damaging his front wing under Bottas’ right rear tyre. Game over for both drivers!
“The first lap incident was about as painful as they get because your race is pretty much over from the start,” Ricciardo admitted in his team’s post-race press release.
“I was in a tricky position because I know that if I didn’t go for it, someone else would have, and I’d probably have been swamped by other cars. At the end of the day, I think it’s just a lap one incident.
“The start was good and those first few hundred metres were looking positive,” he revealed. “I think we were potentially in P4, and in a split-second it changes.
“That’s the nature of the beast, but these ones are pretty painful because you have to endure the race and hope something happens, but nothing really did,” a resigning Ricciardo said, and went on to speak of his race-long battle with Bottas which was for nothing.
“I was able to defend Bottas, normally when you’re doing that it’s for a good position, but we were both obviously at the back,” the Aussie pointed out.
“The car was also damaged, and we had a chunk of downforce missing,” he revealed. “A bit heart-breaking. For a few seconds it looked awesome and then it looked pretty un-awesome.
“We’ll try to come back in Brazil,” the 32-year old hoped.
Despite salvaging tenth place, with its solitary point, Lando Norris’ weekend wasn’t any better than Riccirado’s, as he suffered with pace all weekend, and his grid penalty for taking an extra power unit didn’t help his cause.
“Obviously not the best for us as a team but a good day from my side, from 18th to 10th,” Norris admitted in McLaren’s media brief.
“We knew it was going to be difficult to come through the field, but we did the best we could do today,” he explained.
“I don’t think we could’ve achieved too much more, regarding our pace and the difficulty to overtake and follow.
“One point is more than nothing. We’ll keep trying to work hard and make some improvements in Brazil,” the Briton concluded.
Sunday’s race was a bruising experience for the whole McLaren team, where they ended up losing third in the Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship to rivals Ferrari.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl reflected.
“Tough Sunday for us in Mexico,” he said. “Daniel’s race was effectively over after Turn One. He hooked-up a great start, made some positions and then had an unfortunate coming together with Valtteri [Bottas].
“He needed to pit for a new front wing and had some additional damage on the car.
“Definitely a missed opportunity,” Seidl lamented.
“On Lando’s side, it was always clear he would have a difficult race today, starting from P18,” the German said of Norris’ race.
“He made up as many positions as possible, got back into the points but with the pace we had in the car today, it wasn’t possible to achieve any more.”
Seidl however, appreciated the hard work put in by the team and its partners, despite not being reflected in the end result.
“Thanks to the entire team, the drivers and our colleagues at Mercedes HPP – that was a lot of hard work for a single point and the result does not reflect the effort,” he said.
And concluded: “We’ll reset, relocate to Brazil, and prepare to go again next weekend.”
McLaren still have four races to overcome the 13.5-point-deficit they now have to Ferrari in third, but in light of the current form of the Scuderia, the Woking squad will have to pull out all the stops to achieve their target. (Follow me on Twitter @MallakJad)
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 7, 2021