McLaren F1 Team began their 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship season on a positive note with both drivers finishing in the points, despite Daniel Ricciardo not being overly impressed with his race performance.
However, his team-mate Lando Norris enjoyed a comfortable evening under the lights at the Bahrain International Circuit, finishing ahead of Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez. The British driver started seventh on the grid but quickly climbed through the pile and at one point challenged alongside the Mercedes AMG Petronas of Valtteri Bottas for third place.
But it was no surprise to see the Finn create a large gap between himself and the McLaren, with Norris focused more on securing fourth place in which he did comfortably, finishing six seconds ahead of Perez in the RB16B.
Norris was pleased not only with scoring a good amount of points on the opening weekend but also noted how the MCL35M was able to fight with pure pace.
“Very happy. A good result not just for myself but for us as a team. A good amount of points for this weekend, I stayed out of trouble and I’m very happy.” Norris said.
“It’s encouraging that we were able to fight with pure pace. It’s a good start – big thanks to the team here and everyone back at the MTC.”
“I wasn’t that impressed with my race.” – Daniel Ricciardo
However, it was not the most encouraging display by his new team-mate Ricciardo, who finished seventh in his first Grand Prix as a McLaren driver. The Australian started sixth on the grid, narrowly edging his team-mate in qualifying, but struggled on lights before his back-rear tyre collided with the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda of Pierre Gasly, thankfully avoiding any damage.
Yet, unlike Norris, Ricciardo couldn’t find any pace in his MCL35M and was continuously in a midfield battle alongside both Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow and the Aston Martin Coginzant Formula One Team of Lance Stroll.
Ricciardo managed to finish ahead of former McLaren driver Carlos Sainz and Stroll, but he still wasn’t impressed with his overall race performance, saying their still plenty to learn from.
“First one down! I think overall it’s been a good weekend. We can’t complain with that result. I think from the team’s perspective as well it’s good to hit the road with fourth and seventh. I think there’s plenty to learn from.” Ricciardo said.
“I wasn’t that impressed with my race. We couldn’t find the pace, so every time I tried to get a bit more out of it, it wasn’t really there – but I think there’s plenty to take from the race, plenty to learn from. If what I felt was an okay race ended with a P7, we’re looking alright.
“We’ll take the positives and learn from the data.
“Overall, a good weekend for the whole team, and a good first race for McLaren. Thanks to the guys back at MTC and here at the track for their hard work and preparation.”