F1 2022: Daniel Ricciardo Azerbaijan Grand Prix result, McLaren team orders controversy with Lando Norris

Daniel Ricciardo had a much improved result in Azerbaijan, but it could have been even better had he not been attached by his own team.

Daniel Ricciardo finished eighth in a much-improved performance at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix that might have been even better if his own team didn’t hold him back.

Max Verstappen won the race ahead of Sergio Perez and George Russell as both Ferraris had engine failures and had to stop.

Ricciardo started 12th on the grid and put in an excellent first stint on hard tyres, making his way through the field and climbing to P5.

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He was right behind Lando Norris and had a better pace than his teammate in the early stages.

Ricciardo wanted to overtake Norris so he could overtake Fernando Alonso up front, but was ordered by McLaren to pull back and was told not to pass Norris.

“If this is his best pace, I’ll have more,” Ricciardo said via team radio.

“If I sit behind me any longer, I’ll be eaten by (Pierre) Gasly,” said an obviously frustrated Ricciardo as the AlphaTauri approached him.

Norris eventually got out of the way by entering the pits but by then Ricciardo had lost his advantage and it was too late as he was soon passed by Gasly and Lewis Hamilton.

“Holding Daniel Ricciardo didn’t pay off for McLaren,” said Sky Sports commentator Paul di Resta.

“What could Daniel have done if he had let loose on the hard tire when that was the faster tire in the beginning.”

Ricciardo managed to stay ahead of Norris by making his only pit stop halfway through the race during a virtual safety car period.

Norris overtook Ricciardo and had a better pace in the closing stages of the race, but this time it was the young Briton who was given team orders not to overtake his teammate.

Norris eventually finished ninth behind Ricciardo, but made it clear via team radio that he was not overly impressed with McLaren’s instructions.

“Of course it’s a race and I want to finish eighth,” Norris said after the race.

“The end was just racing for pure position. It’s not like he let me go or anything.

“I understand that, but at the same time we are here to race. I think we know that. I’m not going to say anything because it’s fair what we’ve done.

“Just to finish the race do you want to race to finish. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was eighth or ninth, but as a driver you just want to be ahead of that position.”

Norris believed there was “a slight difference between what happens in the middle of the race, just fighting for the finish position when there is no risk at the end.”

“I think the team did a good job, I’m happy with that, nothing to complain about,” he said.

F1 fans were convinced McLaren’s team orders would lift Ricciardo when he could arguably have finished fifth if given the chance to attack when he had the pace.

Motorsports writer Michael Lamonato tweeted: “Keeping Ricciardo behind Norris despite being faster now makes no sense – doubly so given he’s following a different strategy.”

Ricciardo said he would have liked the chance to attack Alonso early in the race, but the team orders eventually balanced.

“I’m happy to be in the points again,” he said.

“Of course you want to be faster, but as a team I think we did the maximum.

“Of course we played a bit with team orders. I think it eventually neutralized itself and I don’t think we could have attacked Fernando any other way.

“In the beginning, of course, I had the feeling that I could attack and of course I wanted to, but I had to obey and control myself. But these are things we’ll talk about before the race, so it’s not a shock or a surprise.

“With two or three laps to go I was told we would hold positions so I think the favor was returned.

“We’ll probably talk about it now… but happy to be back in the points and both cars. In a weekend where we struggled as a team with the overall pace, I’m happy about that. †

It was only the second time that Ricciardo has finished in the top 10 this season and he said the result was promising given his recent troubles.

“I’m glad we’re definitely in the points again,” he said.

“I know I’m not perfect with this car yet, but I think we took a really good step this weekend.”

Former world champion Damon Hill said the result was “exactly what the doctor ordered” for Ricciardo.

Paul di Resta added: “Formula 1 needs Daniel. He is such a key figure in the paddock when he rides like this.

“You want Daniel to get some momentum out of this next weekend as well.”

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