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Today Was Awesome! The Car Exceeded My Expectations

Arrow McLaren SP NTT IndyCar Series driver Pato O’Ward said that he had an awesome day testing the McLaren F1 MCL35M in the young driver test at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday as his reward for such a strong season with Arrow McLaren SP in IndyCar in 2021.

Speaking following the test, the Mexican said:

“Today was awesome! The car exceeded my expectations of what it’s capable of – it’s ridiculous how much grip there is, specifically in the fast corners – it’s unbelievable. For sure, in the morning, my head was still on my neck. But towards the end of the day, I really think what ended up limiting me being able to go quicker was just not being able to hold my head up and see fully where I was going. My head actually was just looking down because I couldn’t hold it up! It’s such an awesome car. What a great experience, I didn’t want the day to finish. I’d like to thank Zak, Andreas and everyone in the F1 team for supporting me through this incredible day.”

Daniel Ricciardo was also in the car on Tuesday and speaking following the action the Australian said:

“It’s been a good day of testing to close out the 2021 season. Getting some track time on the 2022 tyre has been really useful. We’ve managed to learn a lot and gather a load of data, which is useful heading into next season. There’s still some bits we need to learn before we go racing next year but we’re in a good place. Now I’m looking forward to getting home, catching up with family and taking some time off before we get back in the car in February.”

McLaren Executive Director Racing Andrea Stella commented saying:

“A very productive day. We obviously split the cars, with Daniel working on the 2022 tyres and Pato behind the wheel for the first time in a McLaren Formula 1, driving the 2021 car. It was very useful and interesting testing the 2022 tyres, with plenty of learning. We will review this data overnight and use it to prepare for day two as thoroughly as possible, with Lando at the wheel tomorrow. We’ve been very impressed with Pato’s speed, his attitude and how rapidly he’s learned. We look forward to another productive day tomorrow, before this long season comes to a close.”

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The Award For Best F1 Photobomb Goes To…Daniel Ricciardo!

The 2021 Formula One season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix provided us with plenty of drama on track which was extremely entertaining and nerve-wracking.

Off-track the best moment came when a certain McLaren driver by the name of Daniel Ricciardo photobombed the Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team’s end-of-season team photograph.

The McLaren Racing F1 Team tweeted on Monday:

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I Didn’t Expect P3 Today

McLaren Racing’s Lando Norris says he is very happy as he didn’t expect to be starting Sunday’s Formula One season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from third place.

The Englishman set a time of 01:22.931s and speaking following the action he said:

“I’m very happy. I didn’t expect to be P3 today, but the car felt in a good position going into qualifying and I also felt like I did a very good lap when I needed to in my second run in Q3. Everything came together and I gave myself the best position for tomorrow to score some good points. So, I’m excited and looking forward to the race, which is going to be tough – but we’ll give it our best.”

Daniel Ricciardo starts the race from tenth place on grid with a time of 01:23.409s and speaking following the action he said:

“It was a tricky session. The new tyre was my biggest problem, I just wasn’t able to take another step with it. I’ve got to look into whether there’s something I can do differently to get the tyre in the right window. It’s on me to try to figure that out.

“Otherwise, we’ll try to do something from where we start tomorrow. Hopefully, there’s a few things happening that we can make the most of. Lando was strong, I’m really happy for him in third. Obviously, we’d love to be further up there with him, but I just didn’t have it today.”

McLaren Racing Formula One Team Principal Andreas Seidl commented saying:

A very good result from the final qualifying session of the MCL35M at the end of a long season. Lando pulled out a sensational final lap to take P3 – he’ll have a front row seat for tomorrow’s championship battle between Lewis and Max. Unfortunately, on Daniel’s side, he couldn’t extract the maximum from the new Soft tyre with his final attempt, which meant P10 for him.

“We’re looking forward to finishing the season on a high. We want to score good points, let’s go for it.”

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We Couldn’t Maximize Our Pace Today

McLaren Racing F1 Team Principal Andreas Seidl says that the team was unable to maximize the pace they showed during practice on Saturday in qualifying for Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Lando Norris will start the race in seventh while Daniel Ricciardo starts the race in 11th.

“P7 and P11 in today’s qualifying. We had a quick car today, but unfortunately couldn’t maximise the outcome of quali. Daniel took some heavy floor damage when running over a kerb in Q2, which didn’t allow him to progress to Q3. Lando was unlucky with yellow flags in Q2, which then made us switch to the Soft tyres for the second run in order to ensure we progressed to Q3. This unfortunately meant he only had one set of new Softs for Q3, which compromised the outcome for him. We should have a competitive car tomorrow in the race, let’s make up some positions.”

Lando Norris commented following the session saying:

“I’m disappointed with the end of qualifying really. Happy we’re still P7, because it could’ve been worse today. I got a bit unlucky throughout qualifying with yellow flags, but even so I could’ve been one or two positions higher as I didn’t do the best lap when I needed to, so I’m a bit frustrated. I have a small advantage at the start with the Soft tyre, so I need to make the most of that, but for the rest of the race it’s going to make it a lot trickier. I’m still in a decent position to score some points tomorrow, so we’ll see what we can do.”

Daniel Ricciardo commented on his run saying:

“We had a quick car, but I just picked up some damage on the last run and lost a lot of time. I damaged the floor on a kerb and it was dragging on the straight. I saw the lap-time dropping away. It’s a shame, because we were a lot quicker than P11 today. I’ve used that kerb a lot already, but that time I picked up a bit of damage. We made a good set-up change for quali so I was comfortable and had pace, we just got unlucky.”

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The Jeddah Corniche Circuit Is A Really Interesting Track

McLaren Racing Executive Director Racing, Andrea Stella says that the Jeddah Corniche circuit in Saudi Arabia is really interesting and that both Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris enjoyed clocking up the laps on Friday for the opening day of practice.

Speaking following the action, Stella said:

The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is a really interesting track. According to Lando and Daniel, it’s a lot of fun to drive – but it also offers some real challenges for car set-up. We had a good day, with clean sessions and were able to explore our set-up options, while also learning about the tyres on this unusually high-grip surface for a street circuit.

“Looking at the timesheets, we can see that, as has been the case throughout the second half of the season, the midfield is very compact. Some of our rivals look very quick and we’ll have to be at our very best to understand what we’ve learnt in practice, put it all together and get ourselves into a strong position to qualify well and race for good points.

Daniel Ricciardo ended the opening practice session in eighth place with a time of 01:30.608s while in the evening session he was 11th with a time of 01:29.968s and speaking following the days action the Australian said:

I think the track’s good fun. It’s a challenging circuit but that does make it really exciting. It’s got good flow, good grip, so I’m happy with the layout. I think it’s quite different to what we’ve already been to, as well, so that’s always fun.

“I think we’ve still got a bit more to show from a pace point of view, and I’m confident we can do it. I look at our competitors and they look pretty quick today, but I do think we can match that. So, I’m optimistic ahead of tomorrow and, of course, because it’s a new track, I’m sure there’ll be a bit of improvement. There are still some corners where I can find a bit of time. So, we’ll keep at it

Lando Norris was 13th in the opening practice and 12th in second practice and speaking following the action he said;

“A fun but difficult first day! Fun because it’s a new circuit, a new challenge, and exciting to get out there and feel the circuit. Definitely one of the trickier ones to put everything together and get the accuracy needed to be close to the walls – but not too close, obviously. It was a difficult day because it’s been a bit of a challenge to find a good balance with the car, so far. So, we have some work to do tonight to try to be a bit better for tomorrow. The confidence is there – at least, I feel confident to push the car, but we just have to get it in a better window. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow.”

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McLaren End Their 900th Grand Prix With Two Points

The McLaren Racing Formula One Team celebrated their 900th Grand Prix with a ninth place finish for Lando Norris.

The Englishman, who started the race from fourth place on the grid and came home in ninth place while Daniel Ricciardo was 12th.

The team remain in fourth place in the Constructors championship however, Andreas Seidl told Paddock Eye during his post race debrief that the team are competitive as our their drivers and it’s on to Saudi Arabia.

The team has also been disappointed having come away with just four points from the last three races.

Seidl is hopeful that the Saudi Arabia race track will suit their car and help them to close the gap to Ferrari.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown tweeted:

Speaking about his race, Lando Norris said: