Under-fire Ricciardo aiming to capitalise on ‘unpredictability’ of Azerbaijan GP

Daniel Ricciardo needs a result in Baku this weekend as he aims to recover from his recent poor form.

Daniel Ricciardo has experienced just about everything there is to absorb over the years in Azerbaijan.

He won in 2017 from 10th on the grid that saw Sebastian Vettel and Sir Lewis Hamilton involved in a bizarre incident, and passed three cars into Turn One with an exceptional pass.

The 32-year-old then collided with Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen in 2018, before reversing into the back of Daniil Kvyat in 2019 after a failed divebomb.

The Australian recovered from 13th on the grid to finish ninth last season, and a top 10 finish would not go amiss given his recent form for the Woking-based side.

With Baku always tossing up some shocks and surprises, Ricciardo will be fully aware that the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend will be a great opportunity to finish a race in the top 10 for the first time in five grand prix.

“I’m a big fan of the Baku Circuit, it has some exciting features and it’s always a fun battle heading into Turn 1, where you often end up with three cars running side by side,” he said in the McLaren team preview.

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“There’s a couple of different ways we can play it strategy wise this weekend but track position for lights out on Sunday will be important, even with the overtaking opportunities the longest straight on the calendar offers.” 

“There’s always an element of unpredictability at street circuits so I’m ready to take advantage of any opportunities that come my way. 

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“Whilst Monaco wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be, I’m feeling confident that we can keep pushing ahead and make the most of this weekend. Well done Baku!”

Team-mate Lando Norris, by contrast, has been in the points in six of the opening seven rounds of the year, and stood on the podium in Imola, so if anyone can use the surprise element of Baku to their advantage and manufacture a rostrum appearance, it could very well be the 22-year-old.

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“I’m excited to be heading to Baku! It’s cool to be at another street circuit and last year’s race showed that anything can happen,” he explained, referring to Sergio Perez’s victory as both Max Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton walked away scoreless.

“It will be great to see what we can do in the new cars around this unique circuit. I’ve finished in the points both times I’ve raced at this track so hopefully I can keep that up and get some more points for the team this year.”

After struggling with the effects of tonsillitis in both Barcelona and Monaco, the Briton is back to 100 percent and raring to go this weekend.

“I’m feeling back to usual myself after the weekend off and I’ve recovered well after a tough two weeks,” added Norris.

“I’m excited to see what I can do going into this next double header, so let’s get stuck in!”

McLaren enter the race in Baku fourth in the Constructors’ Championship, 18 points above Alfa Romeo, while Norris is just two points behind Hamilton in the battle for sixth in the Drivers’ Standings.