Azerbaijan GP: McLaren salvage double points finish at Baku

Azerbaijan GP: McLaren salvage double points finish at Baku

In a difficult weekend for McLaren, the team managed to walk away with a double points finish at the Azerbaijan GP.

After a horror qualifying session at the Azerbaijan GP saw Lando Norris demoted down the grid following a grid place penalty, and Daniel Ricciardo crash out in Q2. McLaren have come away with a nice little haul of points following Sunday’s race.

The opening lap saw Norris drop three places down to 12th, one position ahead of teammate Ricciardo. Travelling in the middle of the pack for much of the race, a yellow flag brought on by a crash from Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin. And a red flag resulting from Max Verstappen’s tyre failure, led to Norris coming home in P5, with Ricciardo in P9.

“Happy with the end result today, fifth was the best we could do,” Norris said. “It was a long race with it being difficult to overtake in the middle. There were a few crashes here and there that allowed us to gain a few places, and then two overtakes on the final restart was great.

“I think it was a good recovery from where we were at the beginning of the race after a pretty poor lap one, just because I got unlucky. A decent amount of points for us as a team. Onto the next one!”

The spotlight will be shone brightly on Pirelli and the performance of their tyres following the tyre failures and resulting crashes of Stroll and Verstappen. Red Bull received no data to indicate a puncture prior to Verstappen’s rear left blow out. Indicating the cause to more likely stem from failure.

However, Pirelli were quick to come out stating the opposite. That the tyres had indeed received punctures, leading to the cause of the failure. And was not contributed to by wear and tear alone.

Still struggling to come to terms with the MCL35M, Ricciardo showed speed during the early stages of the race behind Norris. Though he spent most of the race bogged down in the midfield, he also benefited from the red flag, and picked up a position when Lewis Hamilton missed Turn 1.

“We had some positive moments, but also a few difficult periods,” Ricciardo said. “I flat-spotted the Hard a bit, so that became tricky for the last few laps before the red flag, but not too bad beforehand.

“The last start, I felt like I got a good launch, and had a good run on the outside but there wasn’t really much room with a couple of cars on the inside. It just all bottlenecked into Turn Two and I felt a hit from behind. I couldn’t really do much, but we’ll keep working on our plan and keep moving forward.”

Although McLaren did have both cars finish inside the top 10, so did Ferrari. With the Italian outfit narrowly outscoring the Woking-based team, to take a two-point lead in the Constructors’ Championship, 94 – 92.

With the Scuderia enjoying increased performance during the last two races due to plenty of slow speed corners around street circuits, McLaren should be able to bounce back with more straight line speed in the coming rounds.

“From starting positions of P9 and P13, then P12 and P13 after the first lap, clearly the objective was to fight back, and not lose too much ground to our competitors in the Constructors’ Championship,” Team Principal Andreas Seidl said. “In those terms, to leave Baku with finishing positions of P5 and P9 is something we’ll take very happily. We were able to keep our cool through a difficult race packed with incidents, where we waited for opportunities and made decisive moves to finish with decent positions.”

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