Daniel Ricciardo is once again searching for answers after a disappointing performance at the Spanish Grand Prix saw him finish outside the points for the sixth time this season.
The Australian showed plenty of promise leading up to lights out in Barcelona, progressing through to Q3 to qualify in ninth position, but gradually fell down the order as he struggled to find pace.
A switch to the medium compound made little difference as the McLaren driver finished in 12th position, a lap down on race winner Max Verstappen and behind teammate Lando Norris who battled illness to fight through the field from P11 to eighth place.
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Speaking afterwards, Ricciardo admitted it was a “really, really sad race” as he struggled to make his tyres work for him.
“I wasn’t there from the start. And it wasn’t like I had understeer – I mean, I did – but it was just overall lack of grip,” he said.
“I thought at the start of the race, it was very, very slow. I thought, okay, maybe, I don’t know, temperatures just got too high or something with the tyres.
“You know, [at] the start you’re obviously fighting cars and maybe things like that can happen. We did a three-stop race, so I had four sets of tyres today and was very, very slow on all of them so not sure.
“[A] really, really sad race.”
With the paddock now settled into the season, McLaren were one of several teams to introduce car upgrades in Barcelona, but Ricciardo wasn’t able to capitalise off the changes made to his MCL36.
“Everyone obviously came into the weekend curious, you know, for how they’re going to perform,” he said.
“And yeah, it’s one of those races that it was so slow that you kind of nearly, it sounds bad to say, but like, I mean, you hope that something was wrong.
“Like you hope that we find something that is like, ‘Oh, that’s why’ – because [it’s] probably more concerning if we don’t because, as I said, it wasn’t like a tenth or two tenths off, it felt like over a second at times.”
This proved true as Ricciardo’s best lap was more than three seconds off Sergio Perez’s fastest time and 1.6 seconds adrift of Norris’ best.
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“I don’t know that for a fact, but I certainly saw the cars pass me and pull away very quickly,” Ricciardo added.
“Obviously disappointed with how the race on Daniel’s car went,” McLaren boss Andreas Seidl said.
“[It’s] something we need to understand because all the tyre sets we fitted today he simply struggled with grip compared to all the other cars around him.
“[He] just went backwards in the race, which we need to understand because it’s always a shame that we couldn’t fight with both cars for points.”
Ricciardo will be hoping his fortune turns as the competition heads to his favourite circuit – Monaco – this weekend.
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