RACING

‘Difficult decision’ not to overtake Ricciardo amid team orders

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The two riders started on different strategies, with Norris on the medium tire and Ricciardo behind him on the hard.

Ricciardo had decent pace behind Norris in the early part of the race, and just before the latter’s pitstop he obeyed an instruction to wait behind when he had a chance to pass.

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Later, Ricciardo won by being able to make his save under a VSC, which allowed him to get ahead of his teammate.

In the closing stages of the race, Ricciardo was chasing Fernando Alonso with Norris right behind him and asking if he could overtake and attack the Alpine rider.

Norris was told to stay put and despite his obvious frustration the Englishman accepted the decision, and the two McLarens crossed the line in eighth and ninth places.

“I think it’s quite simple,” he said when asked to explain the McLaren team controls by Motorsport.com.

“There was a round right before I boxed where Daniel could have passed me, and he didn’t. I think he was just told to defend himself for [Pierre] Gasly pretty much until I boxed, but I boxed the next round.

“So there was one lap where he stayed behind me, and I guess the favor in return for him not passing me was that I didn’t pass him.

“I could have done it, I was wide in Turn 1. And it was a tough decision to really do it or not. My hard pace was a bit stronger.

“I went with what we decided as a team and stuck with that. He just got the chance from the VSC pit stop, and he came out on the middle to the end. So I would have just thought that he had a bit more pace and could attack Fernando much better.

“As a team, I think we did a good job today, we did what we wanted, which was to finish in the points.”

Norris conceded it was not easy to stay behind, but acknowledged there was a bigger picture.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL36, Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

He added that he would talk to the team about how the race went, however, pointing out that Ricciardo really hadn’t sacrificed anything when he didn’t make the overtake early in the race.

“Honestly, if I finish eighth or ninth today, it’s not the end of the world, it doesn’t change much. We just want to finish as high as possible.

“I think understanding the difference in the situations we were in was a round, Daniel just stayed behind me until I boxed. And I don’t think a round would have changed anything. He probably always would have been behind Fernando, and I would always have been behind, it’s just that he got the VSC pit stop.

“So I think just running for a normal position at the end. He wasn’t there, or behind me or whatever, or in a different position, because of what we did earlier in the race.

“We thought it would help me, but it didn’t. And so at the end of the race, there was nothing to gain or lose between us.”

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Ricciardo acknowledged orders worked in his favor but insisted Alonso would have stayed out of reach had he let Norris through.

“I think the hard was the best tyre,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com about his strategy. “We were faster at the start. There were team orders there.

“Then in the end, Lando was quicker on hard, and there were team orders, so it kind of flipped back and forth.

“At the start of the race I was in his DRS and I lifted, I failed to pass when I easily could have. At the end I think he was in my DRS and he was probably the same, he probably could have passed me with a lap or two to go, so I guess it was just a favor done for me.

“Anyway, even if I released him, I don’t think we had anything for Fernando. I saw at the start of the race that Lando was coming out of turn 16 with his gearbox and still couldn’t overtake.

“So I don’t think it changed the result for the team, I think we’re going to be eighth or ninth regardless.”

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