McLaren’s heroic performance in Singapore
Behind all the drama in Singapore, the performance which caught everyone’s eye came from the McLaren pair Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.
Among all the teams McLaren was looking the most out of shape on Friday. On qualifying it continued with Ricciardo failing to enter Q2. Norris managed to push limits and reach Q3 followed by putting his McLaren on P6 on the grid.
Lando and Daniel started the races P6 and P16 respectively. The duo did not expect a major improvement in their race positions based on the history of the track.
The light and the small straights of the street circuit have a notorious history of being a very difficult race to make a successful overtake on. Added to that, the wet conditions at the start and the changing track conditions were tricky for drivers.
6 drivers did not finish the race owing to car failures and mistakes made in such difficult conditions. But the McLaren drivers were undeterred with team effort and right pit call.
Lando and Daniel claimed 12 and 10 points respectively. But the Briton rightly described the race saying, “This was by far the hardest race probably of my career.” “Not because I had to hold off too many people. But just the level of concentration you need from lap 1 to the very end is incredible”
At one point Norris was close enough to catch Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz who claimed P3. But Norris said he would have been unable to pass his former teammate even if he was a second quicker. Norris also fended off a late attempt by Max Verstappen who suffered a lock-up in the process.
He said, “Max obviously tried to pass me, and he went straight on. Maybe in the end it was a bit easier; I wouldn’t have had a chance.”
His teammate Ricciardo, who recovered from a 16th starting slot to finish in the top five on Sunday, added that he deserved a hint of fortune after four point-less Grands Prix weekends. McLaren waited to pit both of their drivers under the late Safety Car that was brought out by Yuki Tsunoda's retirement.
"We needed this, and as much as I’m looking forward to Japan, I want to enjoy this one," said Ricciardo. "I feel with the result, you know, I certainly feel good – it’s been a long time. I think my last top five was probably a year ago in Saudi… so yeah I hadn’t had one this year, which is kind of sad, but we know the year it’s been, and I feel like I was certainly due some good fortune."
"As tempting as it sounded [to take slicks], it wasn’t the right call, so we [bided] our time and we were able to gain on the others during that phase and then there was a Safety Car – and then we made a very big gain with the Tsunoda incident," said Ricciardo.
This brilliant result with Alpine’s double DNF means McLaren leapfrogged Alpine in constructors' championship for 4th with only 5 races to go.