Aussie Daniel Ricciardo’s horror start to the 2022 F1 season has continued into practice ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix as McLaren got off to a shocker.
Ricciardo finished the first and second practice sessions of the season in 17th and 18th respectively, including having to call it early on his second run as a water leak ruined his shot at a longer run.
It comes after Ricciardo missed the second testing period after contracting Covid-19 last week.
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McLaren’s first testing in Barcelona was brilliant, so much so it worried Ricciardo’s teammate Lando Norris with how well it went, but the issues began to arise in Bahrain.
An issue with McLaren’s brake ducts arose and made testing in Bahrain frustrating for McLaren but the grid was baffled by the team’s complete lack of pace.
McLaren was believed to have made a step up to the frontrunners alongside Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari this season but early indications have not been good.
Even Norris could only manage 16th and 11th in the two practice sessions.
While Mercedes also struggledit will come as cold comfort for McLaren as the team seeks to find some pace after the surprising results.
But former Australian F1 legend Alan Jones has said this is make or break for Ricciardo after he was thrashed by Norris last season.
Ricciardo ended the season in eighth on 115 points, four points down on his fifth-placed finish in 2020 – despite having five more races in his most recent campaign.
And he was schooled by Norris, finishing 45 points behind the Brit.
Norris used his comfort in the McLaren to show Ricciardo who is boss across the season, claiming a qualifying advantage of 14-8 and a race advantage of 15-7 over his much more experienced teammate.
The grid took notice as well as Ricciardo didn’t finish in the top 10 drivers as voted by the team principals.
Speaking to the Herald Sun.former world champion Jones said Ricciardo had it in him to bounce back in 2022.
“I think he can and I would be very disappointed if he doesn’t,” Jones said.
(Lando) outshone Daniel and I know Daniel won the Italian Grand Prix but apart from that Lando outshone him considerably.
“I guess it’s going to be the same old protagonists – it’s going to be Red Bull, it’s going to be Mercedes. The big question is who is going to come along and spoil the party?
“I hope McLaren does because obviously Daniel is part of that deal.”
But he also said that excuses wouldn’t cut it anymore after a season in papaya.
“At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you pop your bum in, if you are a proper racing driver, you adapt to what you get,” Jones said.
“I don’t subscribe to‘ It doesn’t suit me ’and all this sort of crap because you are a racing driver. You just adapt and get in and do it. ”
Ricciardo opens up on practice nightmare
Ricciardo starts a little behind his teammate and rivals due to contracting Covid and missing a full week of testing, he said the car had some issues beyond his inexperience in the car.
“I think honestly, we’re just lacking the overall grip,” Ricciardo said.
“The car feels okay, but obviously when you’re down a little bit on the grip, you do struggle a bit more and lock a wheel here or there and make a few mistakes.
“I’d like to think that we can definitely get a bit better, but we don’t have bags of sand or anything at the moment. So yeah, we’ve got some pace to find. ”
Norris also said he believed the car already needed an upgrade.
I’ve got no idea. We’ve only been here and not other tracks, so at the moment you’ve just got to say it’s (the) package, ”he said.
“If it’s not going to be good here, there are a lot of other tracks that are similar to Bahrain, so just as a package we’ve got to improve. We’ll see what we can do tonight and approach it for tomorrow.
“We’ve got a lot of pace to find if we want to be competitive with any of the guys in the top 10.”
While team principal Andreas Seidl said the team had come up with a solution for the brake duct issue, although not a permanent solution, Norris said there was some improvement.
“Feel-wise, it will never feel any different. It’s just: do we catch fire or not? That is the question, ”he said.
“I think today is a step forward for sure. I just don’t know how big a step forward it is yet. “