Daniel Ricciardo has enjoyed a solid start with McLaren, finishing the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix in seventh place, while reigning F1 champion Lewis Hamilton took out the win.
In what was a thrilling start to the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season, Ricciardo began the race in sixth place and showed lots of promising signs, but ultimately couldn’t extract the same pace as his new teammate Lando Norris.
A minor collision with Pierre Gasly on lap five could have seen the West Australian’s night done early, however he recovered well and produced a solid performance to finish in the points.
Despite crossing the chequered flag three places behind Norris, who was just eight seconds off Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas for a podium finish, Ricciardo remained positive about his debut and believed there was still plenty of pace still to uncover.
"I think the weekend as a whole, (I’m) pretty satisfied. The race itself I struggled with pace. I wouldn’t say it was a strong race by any means but plenty to work on and learn from,” Ricciardo said post-race.
“Definitely not discouraged, just still definitely some work to do.
“As the race went on I felt like I was just falling back and back and just struggled to push on the tyre and keep it (at optimum temperature). I felt like I’ll just cook it.
“I’m sure there’s still some finessing that I can do with the car, and just learn probably what sweet spot I’m after in the set-up.
“But I’m certainly much closer to where I need to be. It’s just going to take time ... but Imola is next. I like that place and we’ll go fast.”
The race featured a thrilling battle for first and second, as Hamilton managed to edge out Ricciardo’s former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen by less than a second.
As expected, both drivers were neck and neck for the whole race with Mercedes' earlier second pit stop proving the masterstroke which helped Hamilton get ahead of the Dutchman – a lead held onto despite some frantic defending from a fast-charging
Verstappen's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez also enjoyed an impressive first race for his new team, climbing from the back of the grid to finish fifth, while Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc ended the day in sixth just ahead of Ricciardo.
Another Australian in Oscar Piastri was in action at the Bahrain Grand Prix during the FIA Formula 2 Championship’s opening round. After winning F2’s second race for 2021, Piastri took on the feature race eager to repeat his heroics.
Having worked his way to the front of the grid after starting sixth and leading the field for a significant period of the race, Piastri’s fairy-tale start to the championship never materialised as he was turned into the gravel by Englishman Dan Ticktum, who went on to finish second behind Piastri’s fellow Alpine F1 academy driver, Guanyu Zhou.
The FIA Formula 2 Championship’s next round will be in Monaco on 21-23 May, while Formula 1 fans only must wait a few weeks for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola on 18 April.