Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo has made the humiliating admission that he only took four laps at “good pace” during the Turkish Grand Prix.
Less than a month after breaking a three-year drought when he won the Italian Grand Prix, Ricciardo plunged to his second-lowest finish at the 2021 World Cup and took 13th after starting last due to a shift in power.
The wet conditions at Istanbul Park saw that all but two of the drivers – Alpine’s Esteban Ocon and Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel – used the same strategy and stuck to intermediates for the entire race and pitched once.
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Ricciardo regretted his lack of quick laps and attributed his fights to annoying tires.
“I think we had maybe four laps in the race where we had a good pace, but the rest was tough,” Ricciardo said.
“In the beginning, we struggled a lot with the front grip, so it was really hard to stay close to the others, and then we pitted for a new tire.”
Ricciardo was the first to box when he set course for the pits on lap 22, where he sat 16.
And as he closed in within a second of the points, challenging Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll to 10th, he was overtaken late by Alfa Romeo pair Antonio Giovinazzi and Kimi Raikkonen, knocking him down to his 13th place finish.
“After (the tire change) I didn’t have a good grip to start and struggled, but after a while it came in handy,” Ricciardo said.
“We probably had four good laps in the period where I could feel like I could really push on the deck, which was what I was looking for. Of the whole race, it was positive.
“I got a little excited because I thought it might just keep getting better and better, but it lasted four laps and then the back end fell away again so the last 10 laps were a little painful, just trying to keep going . “
Ocon was the only driver to complete the race without stopping, becoming the first to do so since Finland’s Mika Salo in his 1997 Tyrell car in Monaco.
On the contrary, Vettel was the only driver to experiment with slicks.
But the four-time world champion lasted only one round on media, returning to intermediates on round 39 after failing to control his car under the wet conditions.
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“It was clear we were fighting for the points and that strategy was our best chance, but it was just really unpredictable,” Ricciardo said of the decision to stick to intermediates and pit once.
“I know others went further, where one went the whole race on a set, but eventually I saw my tires and they were on their last legs.”
Ricciardo’s teammate, 21-year-old Briton Lando Norris, finished seventh.
The youngster had performed superbly at the Russian Grand Prix just fourteen days earlier, gathering pole and leading the race until he late spun out on slicks and fell to a seventh place finish.
Team manager Andreas Seidl pointed out that McLaren’s car was not suitable for circuits like Turkey’s Istanbul Park due to long turns.
“As we have already seen several times this year, as in Zandvoort (at the Dutch Grand Prix), we are struggling on that kind of track at the moment,” said Seidl.
“It’s also the difference we have on our side compared to the teams in front of us that can pull it off on all kinds of racetracks.”
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