The pressure is well and truly on Daniel Ricciardo following his dire Spanish Grand Prix result after his teammate Lando Norris’ once-again outperformed the Aussie despite battling tonsilitis across the weekend.
Ricciardo drifted from ninth to 12th to miss another points finish in a race which saw Red Bull’s Max Verstappen come out victorious ahead of teammate Sergio Perez after the pre-race championship leader Charles Leclerc lost power while leading the race.
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The Aussie has only claimed points once this season, to sit 12th in the overall drivers’ standings.
Norris however improved from starting in 11th to finish eighth, despite battling tonsillitis throughout the weekend.
It comes after Ricciardo claimed a rare win over Norris in qualifying, thanks only to his young McLaren teammate having his track time deleted in Q2 and seeing the Brit eliminated.
It was the first qualifying win Ricciardo has claimed over his teammate this season as the tally stands at 5-1. The race head-to-head stands at 4-2 to Norris so far this season.
While tonsillitis may not seem too serious, Norris complained of “suffering with my throat and my eyes and seeing”, which is an issue when driving at 300km/h.
Along with temperatures in the high 30s, Norris said the race was a nightmare.
“Today was tough,” said Norris. “I was feeling really unwell before the race as I’m suffering with tonsillitis, and that, in combination with the high temperatures, made this one of the hardest races I’ve ever done.
“I’ve been a bit on the backfoot this weekend as most of my energy has been spent fighting off this illness. I’ve had to miss a lot of engineering sessions, which has compromised my weekend, and I definitely wasn’t as prepared for the Grand Prix as I could have been. With that in mind, I’m really pleased to have come out of the race with decent points for the team.”
Post-race, an exhausted Norris was taken to the McLaren team doctor rather than the media pen in order to get a full check up.
With just four days before the Monaco GP weekend begins McLaren team boss Andreas Seidl praised Norris for competing at all, and said “the objective is clear now the next four days, we need to make sure he gets some good rest”.
But it once again turns the spotlight onto Ricciardo, who battled Haas’ Mick Schumacher for much of the race.
The 32-year-old Aussie admitted that he was at a loss as he struggled despite the team applying upgrades ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.
“It’s one of those races that it was so slow that you kind of, nearly sounds bad to say, but you hope that something was wrong,” Ricciardo said.
“You hope that we find something that is like, ‘Oh, that’s why’, because probably more concerning if we don’t.
“It wasn’t like a tenth or two tenths (of a second) off. It felt like over a second at times.
“I don’t know that for a fact but I certainly saw the cars pass me and pull away very quickly.”
The disappointing result once again adds fuel to the speculation that Ricciardo may not be in F1 for much longer as young American IndyCar driver and McLaren development driver Colton Herta’s name was put up as a possible replacement for the experienced Aussie.
Although McLaren reiterated its commitment to Ricciardo just last week, the rumour mill continues to swirl after a brutal start to the season.
Supercars boss Shane Howard even issues an open-ended invitation for Ricciardo to return to Australia and race V8s.
“If the opportunity presented itself to have Daniel on the grid as a wildcard or otherwise, we would absolutely want it to happen,” Howard said via Newscorp.
“He is one of the best drivers and most recognised athletes in the world, it would be fantastic to have him race a Supercar at some point.”