Daniel Ricciardo was at the center of controversy at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after team orders prevented him from overtaking McLaren teammate Lando Norris early in the race.
Max Verstappen extended his championship lead by winning Sunday’s race after Charles Leclerc retired from the lead due to engine failure.
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Leclerc looked set to fight for the winbut the Monegasque driver’s car began to spit smoke on lap 20 out of 51 and he had to pit.
It was his second retirement in three races.
australian star Ricciardo, who is struggling most of the season, finished eighth in his McLaren for only his second top 10 finish of the year.
However, it could have been even better for Ricciardo had he not been fooled by controversial team orders at the start of the race.
Starting from 12th place, Ricciardo got off to a flying start and found himself fifth.
The Aussie was putting pressure on Norris in P4 and wanted to overtake his teammate, but was ordered to back off.
“If it’s his best rhythm, I have more,” Ricciardo told team radio.
“If I stay seated any longer, I’m going to get eaten out by (Pierre) Gasly.”
Norris eventually pitted and Ricciardo moved forward, but not before being passed by Gasly and Lewis Hamilton.
Sky Sports commentator Paul di Resta said: “Retaining Daniel Ricciardo hasn’t paid off for McLaren.
“What could Daniel have done if he had been dropped on the hard tire when it was the fastest tire at the start.
Ricciardo eventually finished one place ahead of Norris, with the young Briton also being ordered at the end of the race not to overtake his team-mate.
“Of course it’s a race and I want to finish eighth,” Norris said afterwards.
“The end was just a race for pure position. It’s not like he let me go or anything.
“I understand that, but at the same time, we are here to race. I think we know that. I won’t say anything because it’s just I think what we did.
“Just to finish the race, you want to run to finish. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was eighth or ninth, but as a driver you just want to be further up front.
F1 world fumes over Daniel Ricciardo farce
F1 fans and commentators were unimpressed with the controversial scenes, with many believing Ricciardo could have finished better if he hadn’t been ordered back at the start.
Motorsports writer Michael Lamonato commented on Twitter: “Keeping Ricciardo behind Norris despite being faster no longer makes sense – especially since he has a different strategy.”
Others described the decision as “shameful” and “ridiculous”.
Verstappen had passed Sergio Perez shortly before Leclerc’s failure and the reigning F1 champion claimed his fifth victory of the season.
Red Bull went 1-2 in the race with Perez finishing second, while Mercedes were third and fourth with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Perez, who won in Azerbaijan last year, said Red Bull made the “right choice” not to let him fight Verstappen for victory and said he struggled with worn tyres.
Ferrari had a terrible day as Leclerc and teammate Carlos Sainz failed to finish, as did the Ferrari-powered cars of Zhou Guanyu and Kevin Magnussen.
It was the first time since the Italian Grand Prix in 2020 that the Ferrari team had to retire from both cars.
with the AAP
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