Daniel Ricciardo's sad admission after breakthrough at Austrian GP

Daniel Ricciardo looks over the grid prior to the Austrian Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo admitted McLaren were well off the pace at the Austrian GP, despite a much-needed points finish. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Daniel Ricciardo broke through for a long-awaited third points finish of the F1 season at the Austrian Grand Prix, but the Australian star has admitted McLaren have yet to find consistency.

After weeks of mounting pressure on Ricciardo following a string of forgettable midfield performances, he broke through to finish ninth at the Red Bull Ring, with teammate Lando Norris slightly further ahead in seventh.

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The increasing points gap between Norris and Ricciardo has been a talking point this season, with some even questioning if McLaren will keep the 33-year-old on for the final year of his contract next season.

Though both McLaren drivers turned in impressive, if low-key performances to recover from a poor qualifying session, it wasn't lost on Ricciardo that more work needed to be done.

McLaren benefited from the retirments of Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and Red Bull's Sergio Perez seperately, with Ricciardo and Norris also doing well to gain places on the opening lap.

Despite this, Ricciardo admitted it was an underwhelming result at a traditionally strong circuit for McLaren.

“It was OK. I’m obviously happy to have moved forward and got a couple points out of it," he said afterwards.

“But yeah, I would have loved a bit more pace.

“There were certainly some areas where I felt better yesterday. (I) didn’t quite have at all times what I wanted in the car today, particularly the first stint.

“I locked up at the start and got a very big flat spot on the first stint and I struggled a lot through all the right hand corners.

“That was quite a shame because I think we had good track position — I think I made up one or two spots on the first lap. That was good but then didn’t have the pace.

“With newer tyres, it was a little bit better but it still wasn’t everything I hoped for. All that being said, it was a decent race. It was solid but just decent.”

Ricciardo hoping to secure more points after Austrian GP improvement

Worryingly, Ricciardo said it had been an uphill battle for McLaren from day one at the Red Bull Ring.

“We didn’t look quick from lap one here this weekend so to come out of it with a little damage limitation and for both of us to get in the points, I think that was all right,” he said.

“It has been a track that suited McLaren in the past. We’ve got a completely different circuit with Paul Ricard (French Grand Prix) coming up.

“Hopefully this was a week one for us and in that case, I think we did a decent job of it today.”

Leclerc survived a late throttle scare to win for Ferrari and move back up as Formula One world championship leader Verstappen's closest rival.

Verstappen, who had to settle for second on Sunday, still has a comfortable 38 point lead over the Monegasque after 11 of 22 races.

Charles Leclerc managed engine issues to win the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Charles Leclerc managed engine issues to win the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images) (NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Mercedes' seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton completed the podium for the third race in a row.

"I was scared. I was really scared," said a relieved Leclerc over the team radio after taking the chequered flag at the Red Bull Ring with Verstappen in his mirrors, one-and-a-half seconds behind.

He overtook the Dutch driver three times in the race but feared the win might still slip away as he battled a throttle problem over the last few laps.

"It would get stuck at 20 or 30 per cent throttle in the low speeds, so it was very tricky. We managed to make it stick until the end and I am so happy," said Leclerc.

"I definitely needed that one. The last five races have been incredibly difficult for myself and for the team. To finally show that we have the pace in the car and we can do it is incredible."

Leclerc's Spanish teammate Carlos Sainz had already retired with an engine failure, his car rolling to a halt and flames erupting from the rear, with 14 laps to go while chasing a likely Ferrari one-two.

Verstappen's teammate Sergio Perez, who had been second overall, also failed to finish with his car damaged in a first lap collision with Mercedes' George Russell, who ended up fourth despite a five-second penalty.

With AAP

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