McLaren fight back and take off from behind, but the leaders are still far away – Formula 1 News

McLaren fight back and take off from behind, but the leaders are still far away – Formula 1 News


Will the fortunes of Daniel Ricciardo – and McLaren in general – turn for good in 2022? (Photo: McLaren)

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Who saw you, who saw you, huh McLaren? After a disappointing – to say the least – Bahrain GP, ​​the Woking team has begun to wake up in the 2022 season. formula 1 already in Saudi Arabia. It was only in Emilia-Romagna, however, that the MCL36 proved to be a different car than the Sakhir. The British team worked on the result and managed to recover quickly – which allows a leadership position in the middle row, of course, but still without any danger for Red Bull and Ferrari.

The big truth is that McLaren started 2022 on the wrong foot. In pre-season testing F1 in Bahrain, unexpectedly high brake temperatures caused instability for the team. New cooling systems were added, but poor performance remained. The icing on the cake, with a taste of trouble, was Daniel Ricciardo’s positive diagnosis for Covid-19. The Australian driver did not even participate in the initial stages at the Sakhir circuit: Lando Norris was the only representative of the orange team in the sessions.

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Lando Norris with the MCL36 in testing in Bahrain (Image: McLaren)

Therefore, the expectation of GP to launch a new era of formula 1 it was already down. However, the team led by Andreas Seidl and Zak Brown managed the impossible: ambition. Ricciardo was only 14th on the lap of Sakhir and Lando Norris was 15th. Surprisingly, the results did not reflect the performance, which was worse: the Australian driver took the last place in the race – in pure terms of speed – at various times.

The MCL36 came into the world without stability, therefore. No gravity car, no proper downforce setup, no motion. A world of scorched earth, with Woking seemingly the worst team on the grid and Lando Norris begging fans to get used to it – because “that was the reality” – however, it didn’t materialise. And the improvement of the bolide came already in the following GP, in Jedá.

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There, McLaren’s fortunes began to change. Ricciardo retired, it’s true, but Norris walked well and figured in the scoring area: seventh place and six points in points. Panorama of a little calm, without much pressure, looking for more. And that, in fact, seemed to set off a definite turning point for the Woking fleet.

In Australia, compared to the beginning of the year, the car was already looking different. With minor updates and beaten close to the best, the Woking team was in the points zone at Albert Park for two doses: Lando Norris was fifth and Daniel Ricciardo, sixth. But, in fact, it was still impossible to control the great improvement of the British team. The taste that Bahrain left in his mouth was too bitter to disappear in just one step. So proof was needed. And Imola decided to do that.

McLaren in Melbourne: good results, performance, not much – at least according to Lando Norris (Photo: McLaren)

In the Emilia-Romagna GP, the bad track conditions represented the final boss of the video game. What? Want definitive proof of MCL36’s transformation better than this? It was kill or be killed. And McLaren killed Dick, as the saying goes. In qualifying, third place for Lando Norris with the taste of ‘I want more’. The post fell on his lap, but there was a chance to reach Charles Leclerc – who would have thought -, in the opinion of the British driver. In the sprint race, Norris was fifth. Naturally, as only the two of Red Bull and Ferrari were ahead.

In the main race at Imola, Daniel Ricciardo retired from the race in the second corner of the first lap. The Australian driver did not retire, but touched the rear of Carlos Sainz, forcing the Ferrari driver to leave the conflict and, with the car damaged, did little. Lando Norris, already highly regarded, is tied for fourth. And when Charles Leclec committed the sin of greed, there was a Brit, in good shape to replace the Monegasque on the podium. Yes, the podium. In just four races, McLaren has moved from the back of the pack and completely changed the outlook for F1 2022.

Lando Norris thought he wouldn’t be on the podium once this year (Image: McLaren)

Still, third place at the Autodromo Internacional Enzo e Dino Ferrari cannot turn into a conclusion that the Woking team is fighting the leaders. Don’t fight. Ferrari and Red Bull are in their own race, on another level – the highest. Still, the British team can be very proud of the performance. Ímola brought strong responses and proved the MCL36 to be a good car.

“It was good to see that we had that consistency, and good to confirm now that Melbourne was not the best place, but that, in fact, the MCL36 is a good car and a solid base for all future developments. We are preparing,” said boss Andreas Seidl. “It is true that to close the podium in the current situation, one of the two Red Bull or Ferrari cars must have a problem, because they seem to have made a big step forward, but at the same time, it’s not. It’s just about performance. It’s also about having a perfect weekend.”

Certainly far from a ghost at the back of the pack, McLaren stops looking at Williams, Aston Martin and AlphaTauri in the rear-view mirror, and starts battling Alpine and Mercedes for the best of the rest. As for the leaders, don’t worry. But if the evolution continues at the same pace as the start of the season, who knows? Dreaming is free. Who knew we’d be talking about the Woking team after Bahrain, huh? Who saw you, who sees you.

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