Spanish Grand Prix – McLaren’s Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo aren’t panicking after a quiet Friday in practice.
In the morning session, Norris set the fourth fastest time, with his teammate Ricciardo down in 14th. But in the afternoon session, the team struggled with both drivers failing to make it into the top 10. Norris was down in 12th with Ricciardo in 15th place.
The MCL35M has been fitted with new parts this weekend and the team spent most of Friday analysing their upgrades. However, the drivers are not worried heading into qualifying.
Norris, who has finished in the top five in every race this season, as well as scoring a podium in Imola said that the team struggled in the higher temperatures in the afternoon.
“It’s not been a bad day,” said Norris. “I think FP1 we were a little bit more confident, or we were just a little bit quicker in FP1. FP2 when the temperature came up, we maybe just struggled a little bit more. But the car doesn’t feel bad. We brought a few different things for this weekend, so we just need to understand them for tonight and put it all together tomorrow.
“There’s definitely just some things to improve in the balance side anyway,” he added, “a bit of understanding why we think we were better this morning than this afternoon with the temperature as well.
“It’s still the fourth race of the season, fourth track of the season, so still exploring different characteristics, different tarmacs and stuff like that… But tomorrow’s the important day, and that’s when we’ve got to put it all together.”
Ricciardo has struggled to find his feet at McLaren and has been beaten by his teammate in all races so far this season. The Australian has managed to carve his way through the field on Sunday to help McLaren score double point’s finishes in every race so far. Ricciardo believes that the fight for the best of the rest accolade is very close this season, but admits that McLaren’s Free Practice 2 performance doesn’t look great “on paper”.
“On paper it doesn’t look great but it certainly was better this afternoon,” said Ricciardo. “Fifteenth [in FP2], but I think it’s one second to first, it’s so close that it shows that not only is F1 close this year amongst all teams, but it’s a track that everyone knows so well, so it’s just small margins.
“I don’t think it was the aero package or anything,” Ricciardo added of McLaren’s upgrade. “I think this morning I struggled just getting kind of comfortable, I guess, or confident. I was a bit off and we were just chasing some rear grip essentially, kind of fighting the car and not really having the confidence to push it. I think we addressed it this afternoon. I do think the car was better, and we made a step. Clearly a step is not enough and we’ve got to make another one.
“We’ve certainly got to find some more tomorrow, because if we’re a second off, we might be back here [in P15] – but I think we’ll be better off, and for now we’ll get some work done and find some tenths. Or a second!”