After the Formula One US Grand Prix, McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo is glad the season is almost over: why he can’t explain his lag
Thursday in the paddock ahead of the US Grand Prix: Daniel Ricciardo turns up in high spirits in the Austin paddock for one of his favourite races in Formula One, riding a horse he has named “Horsey McHorse”.
Just a few days later after the Grand Prix, the Australian looks devastated in his post-race interviews. Ricciardo finished 16th and second last, 90 seconds behind the front runners, even though there was a safety car mid-race. Only Williams driver Nicholas Latifi was worse.
His teammate Lando Norris, who finished 40 seconds ahead of Ricciardo in sixth place, is effusively praised by his team boss Andreas Seidl after the race and keeps the McLaren team within striking distance of Alpine, their rivals for P4 in the WRC, with eight points in Austin. Without Norris’ points this season, McLaren would be second to last in the constructors’ championship.
Ricciardo: If only I knew what the problem was
“I’m smiling because we’re almost done,” Ricciardo said after the USA race. “We’re almost through [with the season]. I mean, it’s painful, for sure. It’s just one of those cases where it’s happened too many times this year that you know early in the race – on lap eight, nine or ten – how the rest of the day is going to go.”
“You just see what the other cars around you can do and what I just can’t do,” Ricciardo puzzled about his pace. “If I knew that, the year would have gone better. But it’s not just about three to four tenths either.”
“I mean, even three to four tenths is huge. I remember when I was with Max [Verstappen at Red Bull] and when I was three to four tenths behind I was throwing stuff around in my room. But now I’m missing seconds and it feels so far away it’s bizarre. “
Ricciardo: “It’s just very, very far away “
When asked if he had any explanations for it, he says: “No, I think I just know what I can’t do. It’s just the grip. But I think it also shows in the inconsistency: I do a green lap, so a personal best time, but then the next lap is three to four tenths slower. “
“It’s like I can’t keep the lap time and even my best lap is not competitive, but even that I can’t confirm. It’s just very, very far away,” he analyses.
Ricciardo relieved at approaching end of season
With three race weekends to go, Ricciardo’s journey at McLaren and, for now, in Formula One will come to an end. There is speculation that he could become a reserve driver with one of the top teams, but the Australian will be relieved for now if the 2022 season is indeed over.
Asked if he sees light at the end of the tunnel with three races remaining, he replies, “In a way, yeah. I mean, I was just talking about how unfortunately the day wasn’t that great. I think last year was already a struggle, but now I look back at last year and think, ‘Oh, that was actually pretty good compared to this one.'”
“I choose to laugh because I don’t want to cry. But I’m still going to do what I can in the last three races, but I’m at a point now where I’m not hoping or thinking and expecting the last three races to be fantastic. I’ll do what I can, but on days like today you kind of feel a bit helpless.”
“I think it’s best for me to make a fresh start. Especially after a year like this. I’m still here, but of course days like this hurt. And I think it will be good for me to get away [from the sport] a little bit, also mentally and stuff. “