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Amidst the controversy and debate surrounding McLaren's team orders at the Azerbaijan GP, a secondary headline was Ricciardo's improved race pace, which saw him finish ahead of Lando Norris for the first time since Bahrain. 

It is probably telling of Ricciardo's decline that being out-qualified by his teammate and finishing just ahead is deemed as a good performance, but the Australian will no doubt take positives from his weekend in Baku. 

He showed respectable pace on Sunday, particularly in his opening stint on the hard tyres, though traffic prevented that pace from being unleashed.

DR3

Speaking after his first points finish since the Imola sprint, Ricciardo explained his current position as quoted by formula1.com:

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"I think at this sport, everything operates at such a high level and if something is a little bit out of tune, then it can have a little bit of a carry-on effect.

It's really for me to get back into that place when I'm fully in tune with the car, and then it will come...

I do think we're closer this year than last year funnily enough, so just going to cross the line now with less people in front of me and more behind me and everything is sweet."

Ricciardo's race in Baku was by no means faultless, as his final stint on the medium stint was somewhat underwhelming, though most of the grid also experienced lack-lustre speed on the less preferred medium compound tyres. 

The 8-time race winner must continue to push, however, as his qualifying and race head-to-head against Norris are still unflattering, and he remains a hefty 35 points behind his teammate in the standings. 

Moving forward, Ricciardo will look to consistently put himself in contention at the front of the midfield and re-establish himself as an irreplaceable asset at McLaren.