It was yet another disastrous Grand Prix for Daniel Ricciardo, with his McLaren exit not coming soon enough for one of the paddock’s most popular drivers.
Ricciardo qualified P11 for the Belgian Grand Prix, but actually started seventh due to a number of drivers being awarded grid penalties.
This put the Honey Badger in a prime position to score some much-needed points; however, it wasn’t to be, with the Aussie finishing in a demoralising P15.
Its since been revealed, though, that the poor performance wasn’t completely Ricciardo’s fault, with the 33-year-old having to have an old-spec rear wing fitted to his car after FP3.
McLaren took two new rear wings to Spa-Francorchamps, with Ricciardo and Norris both being fitted with one each; however, Ricciardo was forced into having his removed due to an issue with it.
The only option was to replace it with an older and heavier rear wing, which resulted in more downforce and less top speed.
Team principal Andreas Seidl revealed that the rear wing had to be changed, with it clearly not being what the team “wanted to run”.
“On Daniel’s side, we had an issue with the latest rear wing and we only had two for this event here,” explained Seidl.
“So we had to go back to an older rear wing, which meant slightly more downforce and therefore a bit less top speed, which wasn’t what we wanted to run, clearly.”
Ricciardo was “hurt” by his car’s poor top speed once the old wing was fitted, something which made him somewhat of a sitting duck down the straights.
“We simply just weren’t quick on the straights,” said Ricciardo.
“I had to put a different wing on because our race-spec one had a bit of an issue. I knew it would hurt us on the straights with more drag.”
Ricciardo dropped to P15 after his final pit-stop and quickly got onto the back of a five car DRS train, led by Williams Racing’s Alex Albon.
With his top speed being incredibly low, Ricciardo simply had to follow the train around the circuit, with the Honey Badger being unable to overtake any of the ‘carriages’.
“I saw ahead that I wasn’t the only one struggling to pass on the straights but I had speed to use in the second sector. But the first and third sector, even with DRS, I couldn’t pass,” Ricciardo explained.
“It was a pretty long and frustrating race, I felt like we were waiting for a mistake. I said on the radio ‘I’m trying but unless they make a mistake in front, it’s literally impossible to pass’.”
“The good thing about this year is you can race closer, but the bad thing is the tow effect is smaller. So actually on a track like this it felt like it made overtaking more tricky.”