Daniel Ricciardo found some answers. But the big question remains.

Just how do Ricciardo and fellow Formula One drivers catch a Ferrari?

Charles Leclerc’s stunning go-to-whoa win in the Australian Grand Prix has gifted Ferrari’s ace a whopping lead in the championship.

Leclerc triumphed by more than 20 seconds at Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit on Sunday.

The Ferrari ace has won two of three races this year and is 34 points ahead of his nearest rival.

And his team hold a 39-point lead in the constructors standings.

Leclerc’s main rival, Red Bull’s reigning world champion Max Verstappen, has failed to finish two races, including in Melbourne.

But at least Ricciardo and his McLaren team found encouragement from the Australian’s sixth place at Albert Park – he came 14th in the season-opener in Bahrain and didn’t finish the second race in Saudi Arabia.

“If you would have said this in Bahrain, I probably would have laughed sarcastically,” Ricciardo said of his Melbourne result.

“So very happy with this progress.

“After Bahrain … I knew we could make a turnaround. I didn’t realise it would happen already.

“It’s positive. Parts of the race we will take some good things out of and others we will still try and learn a little bit from.

“I am still trying to understand how I can keep extracting more out of myself and the car.

“It was certainly better … it’s just about operating at the level more consistently.”

Ricciardo was thrilled by the return of F1 to Melbourne after a two-year absence because of COVID-19.

“It has been nuts, it has been so good,” he said.

“When I got out of the car it was a pretty loud cheer. I was like ‘man, this is a cheer for sixth’ – I couldn’t imagine winning here or even a podium, I would probably have to keep my ear plugs in.

“I think having missed the race for these last few years, you could see everyone was so keen to have it back, I felt that.”


Steve Larkin
(Australian Associated Press)