MELBOURNE, Australia — Daniel Ricciardo has hailed McLaren’s double at the Australian Grand Prix as a “mega result” and says he will now “rehydrate with a few beers” before leaving Melbourne.
The local favorite finished sixth at Albert Park, one place behind teammate Lando Norris.
It is the first time since last year’s Russian Grand Prix that both McLaren drivers have finished in the top seven, and it comes after a pair of disappointing outings for the team in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which n only scored six championship points.
“After Bahrain I was still very positive and I knew we could turn around. I didn’t think it would happen yet,” Ricciardo said after the race, won by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc. “For that reason, I will definitely take it. Overall it was definitely better. The team’s result was mega compared to the last ones.
“It was smoother for all of us and we showed a lot more. Some parts of the race were definitely more competitive; at the start I felt strong on the medium [and] I thought we had something for Mercedes at first, but then they were able to remind us that they are still a bit faster.”
McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl also praised the team, saying the mix of improvements made in Melbourne, the layout of the circuit and learnings from the last race in Jeddah resulted in a solid weekend for the team.
“I’m very happy with today’s result. It’s still a good step forward,” said Seidl. “Very happy with Lando and Daniel. In the end, you need two solid drivers who succeed when it counts. They showed again this weekend the class they are. A result like today is a great motivation for everyone on the team.” “
One of the main talking points around the race weekend in Melbourne was the track changes that had been made to make the circuit “more rider-friendly”, according to Ricciardo, who took part in the preliminary discussions. Historically, the races in Melbourne have been uneventful, with little reshuffling of positions after the opening laps.
The Albert Park circuit has been redone and shortened by 28 metres, with seven corners modified and two corners removed completely. The most notable changes were at Turn 1, which is now 2.5m wider than previous years, and Turns 6 and 11, which have also been widened to allow for faster speeds in the back part of the lap.
However, this year’s race turned out to be relatively similar to those of the past, with little wheel-to-wheel racing and relatively few overtakes.
“The second half of my race was quite lonely and it was quite similar to previous years,” Ricciardo said. “Obviously, being a street track, there’s only so much that can be changed and changed, so you’re trying to do your best with what you have. “
The race was originally due to feature four DRS zones, the most since Formula 1 introduced the adjustable rear wing in 2011. However, several drivers, including Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen, are believed to have raised concerns about the zone between the turns 8 and 9, suggesting the high-speed left turn at the end could prove dangerous. Several cars had also suffered porpoises on this section of the track.
“We probably would have had a few overtakes in Turn 9 with the DRS there,” Ricciardo said. “I saw a lap when Lando was behind Kevin, shortly after the restart, and he got closer to turn 9. I think with the DRS he would have had it. Maybe that’s is as simple as adding that fourth zone and it kind of turns it back on.”