“I hope I have some damage, that would explain my pace”, confided Daniel Ricciardo Sunday at the finish of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Not only had he been right, but he will therefore be reassured by the discovery made by his team since. Seventh in the race, his very first in the colors of McLaren, the Australian pilot did indeed suffer from the contact caused after the start by Pierre Gasly, in which the latter notably left its front wing.
Qualified in sixth position on the starting grid, Ricciardo scored valuable points but lamented the performance gap with Lando Norris, fourth under the checkered flag with about twenty seconds ahead of his teammate. “I felt like I was getting slower and slower as the race progressed”Ricciardo wondered. “In the first stint with the tender ones, I more or less clung to Lando and Charles [Leclerc], but then, with the mediums, they escaped, and it was even worse with the tough ones. I had the impression that it deteriorated over the course of the race. “
By carrying out the traditional post-race inspections, McLaren finally found that there was indeed damage to the MCL35M, following contact with Gasly. The performance of the flat face was affected, resulting in loss “considerable” aerodynamic downforce.
“After the race, we discovered damage on Daniel’s flat bottom, following the impact with Pierre who crashed into him at the start of the race”, confirms Andreas Seidl, director of McLaren. “The extent of the damage has cost us a considerable amount of downforce. Despite the loss of performance, Daniel has brought his experience to bear in handling the issues and scoring important points for the team. We are now looking forward to being at the next Grand Prix. “
The contact between Gasly and Ricciardo especially spoiled the Frenchman’s race, who was even forced to retire at the end of the race. The Australian, him, confided not to have felt anything at the time: “To be honest, I didn’t feel [la touchette]. I was told that [Gasly] had damage and I only saw it at the end of the race. I asked him what had happened and he replied that he had bumped into me. I did not know”.
McLaren’s points harvest in Bahrain remains positive, since with 18 units in its purse, the Woking team settled in third in the constructors’ championship at the end of this first meeting, behind Mercedes and Red Bull Racing.