Daniel Ricciardo radio call exposes teammate's brutal blunder

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris' discussions with their respective engineers about switching to wet tyres late in the Russian GP last weekend demonstrated a stark difference in their approach. Pictures: Getty Images
Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris' discussions with their respective engineers about switching to wet tyres late in the Russian GP last weekend demonstrated a stark difference in their approach. Pictures: Getty Images

The difference between Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris' radio messages to the McLaren pit wall in the dying stages of the rain-affected Russian GP have shown the tiny margin for error drivers are working with.

Norris had qualified on pole and led most of the race without incident until a downpour of rain hit the Sochi circuit with only a handful of laps left to go before the chequered flag.

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This sparked widespread confusion and a pit-lane frenzy as teams scrambled to figure out the best option - switch to wet tyres and give up position on track, or try and stick it out on slicks as the track got more and more wet.

Norris was faced with the most difficult call of all the drivers, leading the race but with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton right on his tail.

Behind them, more and more of the field was feeling into the pits - including Ricciardo, whose well-timed stop earned him an impressive fourth-placed finish.

At the front though, Norris and Hamilton were finding it increasingly difficult to keep the car on the track as the rain continued to tumble down.

With his first F1 win on the line, Norris was inclined to stay out as long as possible.

Norris's conversation with engineer Will Joseph was engaged with his driver for several laps as they wondered whether or not to come in for wets - but at every turn, Norris opted to stay out.

“Four (laps) to go after this one, four after this one,” Joseph said. 

“Some cars have pitted for inter. (Mercedes’ Valtteri) Bottas has gone already.

“Track very slippery from here to turn 10. Lots of cars going off.”

An irritated Norris shot down the initial requests, before accepting that they had to commit to the slick tyres after Hamilton pitted on lap 50 of 53 - a move which ultimately won him the race.

“This f***ing … It’s full wet, boys,” Norris said on lap 51 “I’ve got to box. I’m going to shunt. I can’t do this.”

Lando Norris disaster a stark contrast to Daniel Ricciardo strategy call

While Norris was under pressure at the top of the field, there were still plenty of points on offer for Ricciardo if he timed his stop correctly.

With less pressure to keep track position for the win, Ricciardo and his engineer Tom Stallard were able to communicate more clearly about the state of the track and incoming rain.

After pointing out how slippery the track was becoming on lap 47 and 48, Ricciardo pitted on lap 49 and walked away with 4th place for his trouble.

After the race, Ricciardo said it had to be up to the drivers to make crucial calls in changeable conditions, while Norris felt he wasn't given enough information about the sheer volume of rain expected to hit the circuit in the dying laps.

Lewis Hamilton consoled a devastated Lando Norris after the McLaren driver had a near certain victory fall away from him with less that five laps left in the Russian GP. (Photo by Yuri Kochetkov - Pool/Getty Images)
Lewis Hamilton consoled a devastated Lando Norris after the McLaren driver had a near certain victory fall away from him with less that five laps left in the Russian GP. (Photo by Yuri Kochetkov - Pool/Getty Images)

“I didn’t know there was going to be a lot, lot more rain,” Norris said in an interview with The Race

“And there’s no way of me knowing unless they tell me there’s going to be a lot more rain, which they didn’t.

“I decided to stay out because the team said it was only meant to be drizzling like that and that’s as hard as the rain was going to get.

“For whatever reason, we didn’t know or see or anticipate that it was not just going to be a drizzle, it was going to be a lot of rain. And that’s where we went wrong at the end of the day.”

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