The only positive, if any, in what is already turning out to be a lowly affair for Daniel Ricciardo, is his qualifying result at the recent Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. At the previous race, i.e., the season-opener at Bahrain, he’d manage only an eighteenth on the grid whilst collecting a P14 in the end.
Though the 2022 Jeddah-bound race saw McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo qualifying twelfth on the grid. But, as it so often happens with ill luck, in the aftermath of the qualifying session, Ricciardo was handed a three place grid drop.
Resultantly, he began the second-ever Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from fifteenth on the grid given the McLaren driver had impeded Alpine’s Esteban Ocon during Q2.
Moreover, not long after the race began, Daniel Ricciardo, struggling for race pace fell several places down and was found on P18.
It was never going to be an easy race and things began to turn sour for the usually perky driver from the onset of lap 30, this was before he’d eventually retire come lap 35.
With only fifteen laps to go (before he DNFd) in a car that was constantly unfurling clutch-related problems, it’s anyone’s guess where might have Ricciardo finished given the mechanical hiccups in that MCL 36.
But in what appears to be a surprising turn of events, Daniel Ricciardo, when he could’ve been sullen and down in spirits, is appearing cheerful ahead of his home Grand Prix.
Random development or false claim?
Well, truth be told, none of it actually.
There’s a reason why Daniel is appearing his usual bubbly self ahead of the third contest of the season, which happens to be the 2022 Australian Grand Prix.
It’s been said that the Perth-born McLaren driver is happy to see the current race pace and before he eventually DNFd at Jeddah, Riccardo’s McLaren was holding up well on a tight and twisting track.
As a matter of fact, far away from the comforting sight of Lando Norris, who finished his Saudi run barely a thousandth of a second shy of Esteban Ocon, P6, Ricciardo exclaiming over team radio that, “I lost drive,” was hurting for fans and disconsolatory to the mercurial driver (himself).
But that said, it’s what Daniel Ricciardo maintained post the Saudi Arabia GP during his media exchange that recasts hope into his current drive, “It was looking alright, I think there is some positive to take from the weekend for sure. We still have a lot to go but certainly some progress, which is nice.”
He would also state in no uncertain terms that the construct of the Jeddah track perhaps made McLaren racier, something that wasn’t hard to sense given how closely were Ocon and Norris involved in a fighting finish to the checkered flag.
Who knows, had he not retired, Ricciardo would’ve been involved in similar scraps with the likes of an Alfa Romeo or Alpine?
As he heads to Melbourne, home to the forthcoming Grand Prix of Australia, Ricciardo isn’t devoid of cautious optimism without promising too much.
“It still might ebb and flow depending on some circuits we go to, but looking at Melbourne, the changes they’ve made, I think it’s going to be quite flowing and hopefully that suits us – and I think though for the racing it’s going to be good fun,”maintained the driver truly admired by teammates and opponents alike.
But what’s interesting, however, is that the last time he contested at the venue, which also happened to be the most latest instalment of the Australian GP, Ricciardo bagged exactly the same quali result as this year’s Bahrain GP: a P12. But while at Sakhir he was able to put his McLaren on fourteenth on the grid, he only registered a DNF back then with Renault.
Maybe all of this while change for the better given the homely vibes and the aspect of familiarity of the track for the Honeybadger.