McLaren found damage on Daniel Ricciardo’s car after the Bahrain Grand Prix that cost him performance, and feels it has closed in on both Mercedes and Red Bull.
Lando Norris finished a strong fourth in Bahrain, while Ricciardo was limited to seventh place behind Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc after being unable to match his new teammate as the race wore on. McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said later inspections revealed damage that occurred after contact with Pierre Gasly, which can explain some of the deficit between the two drivers.
“Post-race we found damage to Daniel’s floor from the impact of Pierre running into the back of his car at the beginning of the race,” Seidl said. “The level of damage cost a considerable amount of downforce. Despite the performance loss, Daniel used his experience to cope with the issues and score important points for the team.”
Norris was comfortable in fourth place and although he finished 46 seconds behind race-winner Lewis Hamilton, the fact that Hamilton and Max Verstappen pushed each other hard to the flag gives Seidl reason to be optimistic about how competitive McLaren is this year.
“It was exactly what we were looking for and also what we wanted to have leaving the first race, points for the constructors’ championship,” he said. “It was encouraging to see that, if you looked at Lando’s race, we had the third-best car.
“It was also encouraging to see that if you look at the gap between Lando and Lewis, who had pretty much a flat-out race, and it was only about 45 seconds, which again confirms that we made a good step forward again compared to these top guys over the winter. It is key to make these steps in order to get back to the front again in the future.
“At the same time, we have to acknowledge we have strong competition who also made good steps forward, so that’s the bigger picture, and we simply need to make sure we don’t get carried away. We celebrate, and we keep working hard, and bring more updates to the car to make sure we stay in this battle.
“Lando did a brilliant race, he had it under control at every stage of the race. He pushed when he had to push, he managed his tires when he had to manage them. He had to make sure he had enough left if Perez would have came closer towards the end of the race so I would say brilliant drive from him.”