SportF1McLaren justifies its team orders at the Azerbaijan GP

McLaren justifies its team orders at the Azerbaijan GP

After a disappointing qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo started 11th and 12th, with different tire strategies, trying to anticipate various scenarios to try to come back.

However, the McLaren’s lack of top speed meant that neither driver managed to advance, and Fernando Alonso’s slippery Alpine proved impossible to overtake.

In the first stint, Ricciardo reported on the radio that he had more pace than his teammate, but was told to hold his ground.

Ricciardo’s alternate strategy of starting hard, then pitting during a Virtual Safety Car, was what allowed him to get out ahead of Norris after his only stop.

In the closing stages of the test, Norris was the one who wanted a chance to pass the Australian, but again McLaren instructed their drivers to stay put and cross the finish line in eighth and ninth positions.

Both drivers accepted the order, with Ricciardo saying that those two different instructions canceled each other out, as Norris returned the favor by staying behind, but Ricciardo felt that the two situations were not entirely comparable.

Andreas Seidl , McLaren boss, explained that the pressure from the second Alpine, Esteban Ocon’s, who was behind them, meant that letting his two drivers battle it out made little sense, especially as neither seemed remotely capable of challenging Alonso, who it was the pilot ahead of them.

“I think what we hear on the radio is what you would like to hear from every driver, to be ambitious and try to have the best possible race for himself,” Seidl said of Norris’s frustration at the time.

“That’s why there is a team that makes sure to have the best possible result for the structure, without risking losing two cars on track by colliding with each other.”

“If Daniel had passed Lando early in the race we would have finished as a yo-yo, as we have seen with some other teams this year, with both being stuck behind Alonso and having the risk of Ocon overtaking at least one of these cars. “.

“Our idea was to keep both cars in position behind Fernando, and make sure we kept Ocon at bay, which we did.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Seidl added that, in principle, his drivers are free to compete against each other, but that circumstances dictated otherwise on this occasion. Asked by Motorsport.com if the dangerous Baku street circuit played a role in the decision, Seidl said: “Yes, it always depends on the circumstances.”

“Our drivers are free to race, and we always try to give both drivers the same chance to do well, because that’s our responsibility.”

“But if we have different strategies and so on, obviously you have to make sure as a team that you maximize the result for the team.”

At McLaren they do not believe that anything more could have been done to overtake Alonso, because getting out of the strategy would have led them to enter traffic, and they did not have the top speed necessary to get rid of it.

“I think the only chance of overtaking Fernando was if he had pitted at the same time as Lando, maybe in the first virtual safety car on lap eight or ninth, when several cars made pit stops,” Seidl explained.

“But with our lack of speed down the straights, which we’ve had all weekend, we knew if we did that and got into traffic, we weren’t going to be able to overtake him quickly, because of our deficit on the straight. from [Pierre] Gasly , for example, we would have been completely out of the running.”

“And so it was the right thing to do, to stay out and stay behind Fernando, seeing if there were any other opportunities trying the overcut as well, for example making sure we kept the medium tires in the first stint in good condition, so then we could pull when the car ahead goes into the pits”.

“But as the tires didn’t have much left, we had to settle for where we started with Lando. With everything I’m seeing at the moment, I think we made the most of what we had. I think it wasn’t possible to do more with the package we had here”.

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