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Ricciardo hails 'big step forward' for McLaren after tough start

Daniel Ricciardo was pleased with McLaren's progress at the Australian Grand Prix as the team recorded their first double points finish of the season.

Daniel Ricciardo has hailed a "big step forward" for himself and McLaren after the team delivered a much-improved performance at the Australian Grand Prix. McLaren arrived at the Melbourne event with only a handful of points on the board - courtesy of Lando Norris in Saudi Arabia - amid early-season reliability and performance struggles. But matters improved significantly at the revised, faster Albert Park track, which the British outfit expected to play more to the strengths of their car , with both Ricciardo and Norris looking competitive from the outset.

McLaren get a double points finish on the board

In qualifying, Norris was the best of the rest behind the lead Ferrari and Red Bull cars to take fourth, with Ricciardo backing him up in seventh, before the pair went on to finish P5 and P6 respectively on race day. Ricciardo had hoped for an even better result, having closely followed Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell early on, but was happy to settle for his first points of the season, and the team's first double score. "Obviously [it was a] much better weekend – positives, for sure," Ricciardo told media, including RacingNews365.com . "I thought at the start of the race it looked like we could hold the pace of Mercedes, but then they started to pull away a bit and they just had more pace than us. "We were a little bit lonely at the end of the race, but in any case, for the team, this weekend has been a big step forward. "[It's] our first points of the year and a good weekend for both of us."

Ricciardo thankful for support of the home crowd

Ricciardo was particularly pleased to deliver an improved performance in front of a packed home crowd. "If I look at the first two weekends, this has been definitely a bit of a breakthrough, so I'm very happy to do it here in Melbourne at my home race," he commented. "This was a much, much better one than the last two." Of the response he received from the fans at the chequered flag, he said: "It's crazy! I got sixth today and everyone was cheering like I got a podium, so the feeling to win here would be pretty unbelievable – I'll keep trying! "But everyone's been amazing. I think they all had a really good weekend. "It's kind of what I said [going] into the start of the week, [that] whatever position we come home in, hopefully everyone enjoys themselves. I think the position, in the end, was okay, and everyone enjoyed themselves."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Monaco Grand Prix - Free Practice 2