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Daniel Ricciardo McLaren woes, Lando Norris Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl has delivered a worrying message to Daniel Ricciardo after last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix — there’s nothing wrong with the car.

While teammate Lando Norris has already clinched two podium finishes this season, the Australian F1 star has struggled throughout the opening five races.

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Ricciardo’s woes were exacerbated in Monte Carlo, where he managed the 12th fastest time in qualifying at one of his favourite tracks, once again outperformed by Norris who qualified fifth.

The 31-year-old’s fastest lap was almost a full second slower than the time Norris registered in the third qualifying session, and the Perth-born driver refused to believe he was solely responsible.

“I’m probably confused more than frustrated,” Ricciardo said at the time. “Obviously frustrated and upset, we know qualifying here is so big, but it’s probably got to a point where it’s not even the position now, it’s just we’ve been pretty much a second off all weekend.

“I’d like to say I’m just not confident or still need to learn the car but not a second, not around here.

“I’m certainly not being like, ‘Yeah, something is broken’, but I think we do have to have a look into maybe a bigger picture, because I refuse to believe I’m that slow around here.

“I’m sure Lando’s fast — but I refuse to believe he’s a second quicker around here, and I don’t mean to say that against him.”

Prompted further if he felt there was an issue with the car, Ricciardo said: “I’ll certainly ask the question. I’m sure the team will do a dig and I don’t want to say that’s it or point the finger at the guys for not putting it together properly, but I’m sure we’ll give it a proper look.”

McLaren’s Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo.Source: AFP

READ MORE: Ex-Ferrari boss’ fresh Schumacher reveal

The McLaren boffins have done some digging over the past seven days, and unfortunately for Ricciardo, they’ve found there’s nothing wrong with the MCL35M.

However, Seidl does have a “clear idea” of what’s going wrong.

“One reason why I love the sport, and why you guys love this sport, is because it’s a human sport, and we like the emotions from team members or drivers after good or bad sessions or races,” Seidl told The Race.

“That’s why I think you have to put in context the quotes from Daniel after qualifying.

“We have, when we look into the data, a clear idea of why Daniel couldn’t produce the lap time in Q2 to progress to Q3.

“Our car needs a certain way of driving it in order to extract the performance Lando can extract from it.

“This is not natural for Daniel. And that’s obviously an issue and takes time until you can recalibrate yourself in order to make it natural for yourself.

“But at the same time it’s also the task for us to see what we can do on the car, change it, in order to make it more natural for him so he can extract the performance again (that) we are all used to from him, with a clear objective to not lose overall car performance by that.

“That’s the process we are in at the moment. I’m impressed with how both the team and Daniel are handling this challenging situation. We simply need more time and then in some races we will not talk about this issue anymore.”

The F1 season will resume this weekend with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with lights scheduled for 10pm AEST on Sunday evening.

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Daniel Ricciardo set for boost, Lewis Hamilton slams Pirelli tyres, Red Bull flexi wing, Mercedes

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After struggles at the first three races, McLaren F1 boss Andreas Seidl said Daniel Ricciardo’s teething issues at the team were being exaggerated by low-grip circuits.

It’s perhaps little surprise then that races at low-grip street races, Monaco and Azerbaijan, delivered Ricciardo’s worst results of the season on paper.

The Australian was 12th in Monaco and snuck up to ninth in Baku, with some help from late spins from Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton.

Scroll down for what we learnt from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix!

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Better times could be ahead for Ricciardo.
Better times could be ahead for Ricciardo.Source: Getty Images

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FREAK TWIST CAN’T MASK ANOTHER DANIEL RICCIARDO FAILURE

F1 CHAOS AS ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ FARCE, BRUTAL LATE CRASH SETS UP FINISH NO ONE SAW COMING

‘COULD HAVE LOST HIS LIFE’: F1 BLAME GAME EXPLODES AS FURIOUS DRIVERS REVOLT OVER ‘HORRENDOUS’ FAILURE

Meanwhile, teammate Lando Norris came third and fifth, creating the biggest points gap between the drivers since teaming up this year.

Experience and past successes at Monaco and Azerbaijan — he won at both tracks for Red Bull in 2018 and 2017 respectively — were thought to be of some help to Ricciardo’s acclimatisation process at McLaren.

But sub-par showings at both events, including a crash in qualifying at Baku, have proven just how gruelling that process is.

It’s clear that McLaren’s cars need to be driven in a particular way, while Ricciardo has a trademark style under braking that, so far, hasn’t been compatible.

That gap between how the McLaren wants to be driven and how Ricciardo wants to drive it has only been exacerbated by tricky assignments at the past two races.

In theory, Ricciardo now heads into a friendlier stretch with the French, Styrian, Austrian and British Grands Prix all boasting flowing layouts.

Two of those races — Styria and Austria — will be held at the Red Bull Ring, where two races were held last year, too.

That familiarity should boost Ricciardo’s chances — he was strongest this year in Spain where he’s logged countless laps during pre-season testing.

He’s also working hard in the simulator, which he said was proving to be productive before the Azerbaijan GP.

“It was really just trying to take a step back and understand what’s going on and how the car works and what needs to be done to get the car working well,” he said.

“Certainly some things now do seem more clear to me, and I think it was really productive to do that.

“I’m just looking forward to putting that in play now on track.”

‘FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM’ A STAIN ON MODERN F1

Perez claims wild GP victory! | 03:41

After sudden punctures to Verstappen and Lance Stroll, and after a large cut was found in one of Lewis Hamilton’s tyres, Pirelli’s performance as F1’s sole tyre provider is squarely back in focus.

Since becoming F1’s exclusive provider in 2011, Pirelli has been under pressure to deliver a tyre that can withstand wheel-to-wheel racing, but degrade enough to make two-stop strategies occasionally viable.

Pirelli has never convincingly delivered, and is now under fire for what’s being labelled an “unacceptable” failure in Baku.

Verstappen was four laps from victory when his left-rear blew out at about 320km/h, moments after the same happened to Stroll.

“It’s not acceptable,” Paul di Resta said on Sky Sports, noting that the drivers “don’t like the tyres”.

Verstappen predicted Pirelli would blame debris, adding that the excuse is “a bit hard to accept”.

Sure enough, Pirelli boss Mario Isola was swiftly on the defensive, saying: “I believe I can exclude that failures were due to tyre wear, because it’s not a matter of tyre wear…

“I don’t want to give any preliminary conclusions. But it seems that it is a cut due to debris, because as I said, it’s not the most stressed tyre.”

The issue now is that Pirelli isn’t under any meaningful pressure to provide a valid explanation given it is contracted to be F1’s sole supplier until 2023.

Hamilton recently told Speedweek that Pirelli, however, has long been making a “fundamental” error.

The solution could be to go back to having competing tyre suppliers, Hamilton said.

“We drivers constantly complain that these tires are overheating. We can’t attack constantly, and from my point of view that’s the basis for better sport,” Hamilton told the publication.

“Pirelli is guilty of a fundamental problem. These cars are getting heavier.

“When we had several tire manufacturers in Formula 1 at the time, the racing cars were considerably lighter. But the companies spurred each other on. Today this incentive is missing because we have a sole supplier. It’s only us drivers who put pressure today.”

HAMILTON SHOCKS WITH SLOPPY ERROR

Lewis Hamilton made a surprising rookie error in Baku.Source: Getty Images

Hamilton was ruthless in the first four races of the season, capitalising on errors from Red Bull to seal three wins and another podium.

It’s hard to believe the same driver could only qualify, and finish, seventh at the Monaco Grand Prix and fail to claim any points in Azerbaijan.

In Monaco, Hamilton was at a loss for words to explain why he suddenly was so much slower.

That race could have just been a small blip on the radar of a long season but, on Sunday, Hamilton was guilty of doing something he never does: Compounding an error.

The seven-time world champion had another race win at his mercy after Verstappen’s late puncture.

But at the restart, Hamilton made a surprisingly rookie error by accidentally flicking a “magic” switch that effectively left him without brakes at Turn One.

“Did I leave the magic on? I could have sworn I turned that off,” Hamilton said as he went off, and ended up finishing 15th.

He later added: “On the restart, I think when Checo (Perez) moved over towards me I clipped a switch and it basically switches the brakes off so I just went straight.

“I had no idea that I’d even touched it.”

The result ensured that Verstappen would stay in the championship lead by four points heading into the French Grand Prix.

Miller gets on podium in Barcelona | 01:13

WOLFF VS HORNER SET TO EXPLODE   

A bubbling spat between Mercedes and Red Bull bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner could reach boiling point at the next race as the FIA introduces new testing procedures.

Red Bull has been feeling the heat amid claims — chiefly from Mercedes — that its rear wing breaches technical regulations by flexing at high speeds.

Meanwhile, Horner believes Mercedes is guilty of double standards, suggesting the team’s front wing should also come under the microscope.

“If you’re picking on one end of the car you have to look at the other,” Horner said on Sky Sports after qualifying. “Sometimes you’ve got to be a little bit careful what you wish for.”

“I think if I was Toto with the front wing he’s got on his car, I’d keep my mouth shut.”

In response, Wolff said: “Christian is a bit of a windbag who wants to be on camera.

“It’s about being punchy. It’s easy to be punchy when you are on top of the time sheet, but you should be a little bit more modest I think.”

The time for the war of words, however, is drawing to a close with the FIA set to introduce new wing flexibility tests ahead of the French Grand Prix.

The Red Bull design will therefore be rigorously tested under new procedures and either Horner, or Wolff, will be validated.

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F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix results 2021, Standings, timings, Lewis Hamilton, error, brakes, latest news

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Lewis Hamilton admitted that the rookie error of flicking a “magic” button on his Mercedes caused him to blow his chance of claiming victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Hamilton looked to have been primed to take full advantage of Max Verstappen’s crash out from the lead after getting the jump off the line on Perez after the post-red flag restart.

But the drama on a chaotic afternoon in Baku didn’t end there, with Hamilton locking up into Turn One and running onto the escape road, dropping him down the order and out of the points.

He revealed afterwards that the “magic” button had “switched the brakes off” causing him to miss the first corner.

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Lewis Hamilton ‘switched the brakes off’. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton ‘switched the brakes off’. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Speaking on the team radio at the time of the incident, Hamilton said: “Did I leave the magic on? I could have sworn I turned that off.”

He added afterwards: “On the restart, I think when Checo [Perez] moved over towards me I clipped a switch and it basically switches the brakes off so I just went straight.

“I had no idea that I’d even touched it.”

The ‘magic’ switch is designed to heat the front tyres on the car before a race by changing the balance of the brakes. Hamilton likely accidentally double pressed it when turning it off ahead of the restart.

“He touched a button and the brake balance changed,” explained Mercedes boss Toto Wolff. “The brake balance went forward and basically the car doesn’t stop.”

The error meant that it was unchanged at the top of the championship, with Verstappen retaining his four-point championship lead.

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F1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix 2021, results, standings, Mick Schumacher, Mazepin, Baku, latest news, highlights

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Mick Schumacher has “cleared the air” with Nikita Mazepin after the Russian tried to steal a place from his teammate with a controversial late move at the chequered flag at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Schumacher, son of F1 legend Michael, spent the majority of the chaotic race in Baku ahead of Mazepin, only to see him jump ahead of him at the standing start with two laps to go to move up to 13th.

Schumacher was able to get within overtaking distance on the final lap but just as he went to do so, Mazepin served late to the right to block the move.

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Mick Schumacher was left fuming. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mick Schumacher was left fuming. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

That left Schumacher ballistic over the team radio, despite him still being able to just squeeze past him.

He fumed: “What the f*** was that, honestly?! Seriously, does he want to kill us?”

Mazepin revealed afterwards that he had ran out of battery as he approached the finish line, with his straight-line speed dropping under the pressure from Schumacher, leaving him frustrated to lose the place.

“The main thing is I’m a little bit upset about losing my position to the teammate on the main straight,” Mazepin said.

“I ran out of battery there, so I was a bit of a sitting passenger, but it is what it is.”

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner insisted the matter was closed after the race, calling it a misunderstanding by both drivers.

“There was a situation on the straight, that was all resolved, and we’ve cleared the air,” Steiner said. “There was some misunderstanding, but we’re fine and all moving on from it.”

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