Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren boss has given the Australian a brutal rev-up ahead of the British Grand Prix.
The 32-year-old on Saturday morning showed impressive pace to finish seventh in qualifying for the sport’s first ever sprint race at Silverstone.
However, his return to form has been overshadowed by a harsh assessment from McLaren CEO Zak Brown, speaking at the British Grand Prix.
Brown said he is surprised by how much Ricciardo has struggled to adapt to his new MCL35 car — compared to teammate Lando Norris.
“I think we are surprised, he’s surprised that he’s not nearer Lando’s pace — but the good news is everyone’s working very hard, everyone knows where we need to improve,” Brown said, according to Reuters.
“Daniel knows where he needs to improve, so there’s no excuses, just hard work ahead of us and I hope he gets on top of it because we need two cars constantly in the front if we’re going to hold onto third in the championship.
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“He is definitely getting closer and his race pace is stronger than his qualifying pace at the moment. I think it shows how good Lando is.
“(Lando) has shown he’s an awesome racing driver so I think Daniel’s up against tough competition.”
Ricciardo has admitted to feeling uncomfortable with his new car since moving from Renault at the end of 2020 — but is putting in hard yards to adapt to his new car.
He has accrued just 40 championship points for his new team this season — and his best finish this year has been sixth.
Norris has 101 championship points on the back of three podium finishes.
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Ricciardo’s hard work appears to be paying off after Saturday morning’s qualifying session.
He finished just 0.02 seconds behind his teammate to finish seventh overall — and was just 0.08 seconds away from the time set by Charles Leclerc, who qualified P4.
World champion Lewis Hamilton edged out title rival Max Verstappen in qualifying to take pole position.
Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was third, Sergio Perez was fifth and Norris was sixth.
Daniel Ricciardo has been doing it tough.Source:Getty Images
The agony of being so close to qualifying fourth left Ricciardo wondering what could have been.
“I’m mixed right now, because it was actually good,” said Ricciardo.
“We had a good feeling and good pace and just the last run, I think there was some time on the table. I see how close it is and when you see fourth so close… right now I feel like I know where that [time] is.
“You’ve got to be a little bit smart about the main points [being] on Sunday, so you don’t want to ruin yourself for Sunday if you know what I mean and do something silly.
“But I see it as an opportunity to start further up the grid on Sunday. I’m excited for the format. I like having one practice straight into quali, I think that’s kind of fun.
“So it’s been a good day – I’m obviously just frustrated with such small margins.
“Looking at the last two qualifyings [where Ricciardo took P13 on the grid in both Red Bull Ring races], seventh is great, but I feel it’s also a slight missed opportunity. I think we could have looked a lot better tomorrow – I say a lot better, obviously as tight as it is, all we needed was that last little bit and it’s a few more spots up the grid.
“But it’s all good, we’ll kick on tomorrow and put on a good start for the fans, upset some people and then get everyone cheering.”
The sprint race format will be repeated at the Italian Grand Prix in September and at one other race, yet to be specified race this year.
Saturday night’s sprint will offer championship points with three for the winner, two for second and one for third.
It will last 25-30 minutes and be run over 100km, which at Silverstone means 17 laps. That compares with 52 laps and just over 306km for the race itself on Sunday.
Official qualifying results for British Grand Prix Sprint Race
Front row: Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes) — Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda)
2nd row: Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes) — Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari)
3rd row: Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull-Honda) — Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
4th row: Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes) — George Russell (GBR/Williams-Mercedes)
5th row: Carlos Sainz (ESP/Ferrari) — Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes)
6th row: Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault) — Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Honda)
7th row: Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault) — Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)
8th row: Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes) — Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Honda)
9th row: Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari) — Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes)
10th row: Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari) — Nikita Mazepin (RUS/Haas-Ferrari)
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