Daniel Ricciardo: ‘Banging wheels’ with Sainz was needed to keep position

Daniel Ricciardo: ‘Banging wheels’ with Sainz was needed to keep position

Daniel Ricciardo saying banging wheels with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz at the United States Grand Prix was needed for him to hold the position.

Since the return from the Formula 1 summer break, McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has been a man on a mission.

While teammate Lando Norris dominated the first half of the season, Ricciardo has been the shining light at McLaren since Monza, outscoring Norris 55 – 36 in accrued points. The resurgence of the Australian is a welcome one, with his continued points scoring spree allowing for the team to stay ahead of Ferrari in the constructors’ standings.

The return of the McLaren and Ferrari rivalry is one that we have not seen since the late 90’s and early 2000’s. With the likes of Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello behind the wheel.

With five races remaining in the 2021 F1 season, McLaren lead the Scuderia by just 3.5 points in the Constructors’ Championship. A fourth and seventh place finish by Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz at the United States Grand Prix was enough to close the gap, with Ricciardo and Norris coming home in fifth and eighth.

Ferrari have somehow managed to do a complete 360 in terms of performance compared to their dreaded 2020 campaign which saw them languishing down in sixth place. With many expecting them not to competitive until at least 2022, with the new regulations in play, Ferrari have shown much like McLaren that they are on the up and up.

Competition was close between the two rival teams at the weekend, however, Ferrari appeared to have the faster car on track. Leclerc was quick to make an escape from Ricciardo, while Sainz remained in striking distance for much of the race.

The two McLaren’s along with Sainz tussled during the early stages of the race with Ricciardo managing to pull ahead, while Norris dropped in behind his former teammate. Ricciardo and Sainz went head to head again in the latter stages of the race, with the pair touching wheels and the Ferrari suffering front wing endplate damage.

But while Sainz voiced his opinion over team radio that the encounter with Ricciardo “got a bit dirty”, the McLaren driver said a bit of wheel rubbing was necessary in order for him to maintain his position.

“At times it was let’s say kind of a standard progressive race or whatever, but then at times it was interesting,” said Ricciardo. “The first lap was a lot of fun. I got Carlos I think on the start, then he got me back with a good move outside of six into seven. And then I got him back Turn 17 I think on the inside. So it was three kind of changes in position on the first lap was cool, but that was crucial for me to get a top five today.

“Charles showed that Ferrari were quicker, we couldn’t match that pace today. So obviously that’s something we’ve got to still try to find. But to beat one of them it’s quite rewarding.

“And [Sainz] put on a good attack later on in the race as well and we obviously went side-by-side, and a little bit of banging wheels. So it was very fun, and very needed to hold on for everything I could.

“Obviously you don’t deliberately try to go into someone, but that’s obviously a bit of rubbing racing. And when you put yourself on the outside, obviously you’re a little bit more exposed. So nothing was deliberate, but I guess it’s the risk that he ran by trying on the outside.”