McLaren drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris are pleased with the first qualifying of the season, finishing in sixth and seventh place, especially as they tuned the car more for the race than for the qualifying due to Bahrain track characteristics.
Although McLaren looked like the third fastest team after testing, they were only the fifth fastest team in the qualifying for the Bahrain GP behind Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari and AlphaTauri.
But McLaren drivers Ricciardo and Norris had the most even performance of all the drivers as they both passed in Q3 and drove laps that were only 0.047 seconds apart.
Ricciardo won his first qualifying match against Norris, who has narrowly beat Sainz in the last two seasons, but lost to the Spaniard in the overall standings at the end of the season.
“It’s a pleasant relief to get the first quali out of the way and get a decent result,” said Ricciardo.
“I think, after the test, I was fairly comfortable in the car but probably more so on long runs.”
“I still felt that, if anything, my Saturdays were going to need improving – and I think they still do – but I certainly made a nice step from a couple of weeks ago and I’m happy.”
“We’ve got a good platform to build on now, I’m really happy with how we approached it as a team, not putting too much pressure on me. We were a bit off the pace yesterday, but they could see I was just trying to figure it out.”
“I don’t want to do somersaults or backflips just yet, but it’s certainly a nice start for the campaign and I think we’ll do alright tomorrow. There’s a mix of cars around us, so I’m looking forward to that, and with Lando alongside hopefully we can get some big points for the team and start the year right.”
Norris added that McLaren focused more on the race than qualifying during the first weekend of the season.
“Tricky qualifying, just because it’s very close between everyone,” said Norris who finished sixth in Bahrain in 2019.
“First one of the season, so I think we’re pretty happy with sixth and seventh for the team and getting to see where the car is – it’s a good position for tomorrow.”
“It’s probably a bit more of a race track than a qualifying track, so hopefully, after focusing a little bit on that throughout the weekend, we can be strong tomorrow.”