The Australian clarified that an issue with McLaren’s data forced him to save fuel from the first lap and did not allow him to get any pace.
While the inaugural edition of the Qatar Grand Prix proved to be a night to remember for the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso, the same cannot be said of McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian had a tough time under the lights at the Losail International Circuit as he finished outside the points at a lowly P12. The performance was nowhere near good enough considering Ricciardo’s standards, who was the race winner a number of weeks ago at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza. However, the Australian clarified that an issue with McLaren’s data forced him to save fuel from the first lap and prevented him from getting any real pace out of the car.
Ricciardo was already on the back foot heading into the race after an underwhelming qualifying session in which he, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez all crashed out in Q2. While both of those drivers would leave Qatar with points, Ricciardo would only be able to climb from P14 to 12th by the checkered flag.
“In fuel saving, that’s where it got lost,” Ricciardo said. “We had a few things going on today. So already from Lap 1, I had some fuel warnings on the dash which you don’t get on Lap 1, so I ignored it, because I thought okay, it’s just an error in the dash.”
“But then quite early, I was told that you need to seriously start saving fuel. I saved quite a lot, like already what I thought was too much, and I was told it’s not enough, it’s not enough, to the point where we were… probably going two seconds a lap slower. And with that, tyres get cold, brakes get cold, so you lose even more ultimately,” the Australian added.
The former Renault and Red Bull driver also said that he had considered retiring the car at one point in the race, given how much he was struggling. “[The fuel saving] never seemed to be enough. So I was kind of thinking, what’s the point of staying out, because obviously there’s an error and maybe we just messed up but we’re just cruising,” he said.
“So we had to do that for the majority of the race. Then I was told no more fuel saving and pushed like crazy. I don’t know why I always laugh, I don’t mean to laugh. It was painful and it’s just obviously something that’s gone wrong in the data or the calculations today and we were getting the wrong information. So that’s what we need to look into, because our race was dictated by the numbers we were receiving and clearly those numbers were wrong,” Ricciardo added.
The Qatar Grand Prix concluded F1’s final triple header of the season, a triple header in which Ricciardo finished no higher than P12 in either Mexico or Qatar, and retired from the Sao Paulo Grand Prix. The Australian admitted that the three races had been “unpleasant,” as he focused on the upcoming Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on December 5.