Ricciardo confident McLaren can fix FP2 power unit fault as he laments ‘messy’ Friday in Sochi
Fresh from winning the Italian Grand Prix two weeks ago, Daniel Ricciardo came back down to earth with a bump on the Friday of the Russian Grand Prix weekend, with a power unit issue and various disruptions leaving him P17 in Free Practice 2 – and hopeful for improvements as the weekend progresses.
Ricciardo finished FP1 in P14, but was then struck by a power unit issue ahead of FP2, forcing McLaren to fit one of their older engines, with Ricciardo then enduring a frustrating session as traffic and disruptions – including a red flag – left the Monza winner 17th at the end of the day.
And asked if he was hopeful that the power unit could be fixed in time for the rest of the weekend, Ricciardo replied: “I’m confident things will be sorted for sure.
“A pretty unstable Friday but I guess the glass half full [approach is that it’s] better today than Saturday or Sunday, so hopefully that’s done and dusted now,” he added.
“But there’s no denying it, it obviously affected our day, and when we did get out there, there’s yellows, there’s reds and we’re trying to do a lap and people are on high fuels, so it was definitely messy. It disrupted really all of FP2… There’s no sugar-coating it, it was definitely a tricky day… We can look a lot better than we did [but] we’ve still got to make steps regardless of the disruptions today.
“I think the weekend’s going to have more disruptions,” added Ricciardo, referring to the uncertain weather forecast, “but I hope for all of us, not just for myself. So we’ll see what tomorrow brings. A few umbrellas I think.”
Over on the other side of the garage, team mate Lando Norris overcame a half-spin into the pit entry wall in FP1 – caused by an engine issue rather than driver error, according to the Briton – to go P4 in FP2, with Norris left feeling cautiously optimistic for the rest of his weekend.
“I struggled quite a bit in [FP1], but we made quite a few changes on the car for second practice and definitely improved it quite a bit, so left with a more positive feeling at the end of today, and going into tomorrow and Sunday,” said Norris.
Asked if his McLaren MCL35M had felt as good as it did around Monza – where Norris backed up Ricciardo to take a one-two for the team – he replied: “[It was] slightly more compromised. I think you can feel good and just not be as quick sometimes, just because some of our strengths that we had in Monza aren’t as shown here, and there’s more of the ‘weakness’ corners where we’re just not as strong.
“So I wouldn’t say we’re as competitive as what we were in Monza, that’s for sure. But there’s a decent feeling and we can still be competitive compared to Ferrari and AlphaTauri and the people we’re racing against.”
McLaren will aim to leave Sochi with their P3 in the constructors’ intact, the team currently 13.5 points ahead of rivals Ferrari.