Daniel Ricciardo made a high-profile move from Renault to McLaren for the 2021 Formula 1 season. The Australian replaced Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz at the Woking-based team. Despite qualifying a respectable P6 on his McLaren debut in Bahrain, 'The Honey Badger' never really got going in the race. Ricciardo struggled to match teammate Lando Norris' pace, who finished the Bahrain Grand Prix in P4.
Ricciardo looked lost for the majority of the race and finished P7, sandwiched between the Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz. However, after the race, team principal Andreas Seidl said Ricciardo had some damage on the floor through which his McLaren lost important downforce needed to stay competitive in the race.
How did Ricciardo get the damage?
Right after the safety car restart on Lap 4, Daniel Ricciardo was hit by Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri which caused the front wing of the Frenchman to break. The collision caused a damaged floor to his car, which resulted in a loss of downforce, unbeknownst to Ricciardo and McLaren.
Andreas Seidl confirmed that the team came to know about the damage after examining the car once the race was over.
The team principal said:
“Post-race we found damage to Daniel’s floor from the impact of Pierre running into the back of his car at the beginning of the race. The level of damage cost a considerable amount of downforce."
However, Seidl praised Ricciardo's experience and driving style to cope with the issues troubling the Australian's McLaren. The German was impressed with the performance of both drivers and said that he is looking forward to the next race in Imola.
“I’m still very happy with how the entire weekend went with Daniel, very happy we finished in good points, and it was a good start.”
McLaren will look to challenge for third place in the constructors' standings this year. However, with a rejuvenated Ferrari and AlphaTauri on their heels, the Woking-based team will need to avoid unnecessary damage to their cars if they want to lead the midfield.