Daniel Ricciardo’s ‘grumpy’ assessment as RB hype falls flat in Bahrain qualifying

Thomas Maher
Daniel Ricciardo, RB, Bahrain Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo was feeling 'grumpy with himself' after qualifying outside the top 10 for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo will line up in 14th place for Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, and the Australian was disappointed with his qualifying performance.

Ricciardo couldn’t make it into Q3 as he kicks off his full-time return for a racing season, with the Australian only managing 14th place for RB.

With teammate Yuki Tsunoda faring better as he claimed 11th on the grid, Ricciardo had a frank assessment of his qualifying session as he spoke to media afterward.

Daniel Ricciardo: I didn’t drive s**t but I am disappointed

Having finished two-tenths of a second off the pace set by Tsunoda in the sister RB, Ricciardo admitted he was feeling some disappointment after the session.

“I was disappointed in my position slash performance,” he told media, including PlanetF1.com.

“It wasn’t… I didn’t drive shit or anything but I never really crossed the line being like, ‘Yeah, I did a clear lap’.

“I always knew, I could make time at Turn 1, or Turn 4. There were always some parts on the track where I knew there was lap time but I never really was able to put it together.

“Even if I improved a little bit, then I’d probably lose a bit in the next corner, so it kind of see-sawed a bit. I was never progressively gaining. So I felt like, from that point of view, I wasn’t that happy with my session.”

But, while Ricciardo may not have been fully satisfied with his own performance, the 11th and 14th place grid slots aren’t a million miles off what RB were expecting coming into the weekend.

“I think in terms of team performance, this is kind of where we thought,” he said.

“I feel like there’s a bit more time on the table but, taking Yuki in 11th, we felt like, if we do like a great lap, Q3 is possible but, otherwise, we’re probably around that top 12 area. So, I think it’s where we are for now.

“We expected a little bit of a steady start to the year, so I wouldn’t say we’re disappointed. I’m a bit disappointed in my session but I think, as a whole, we’re not worried or panicked. I think it’s where we thought we’d ultimately be.

“I’m just disappointed I couldn’t find those extra couple of tenths.

“14th on paper doesn’t look great, but, looking at the times, it’s all very close. There’s a lot to still be quite optimistic about. There was some easy lap time I left on the table so, on one hand, I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s there’.

“But I’m disappointed I didn’t put it together because that’s what qualifying is for and you’re meant to put it together when it counts. So, yeah, I’m kind of grumpy at myself.

“I think there’s a bit to obviously feel with the car and understand but I’m not really concerned or anything. I think it’s just probably more within myself than with the team at the moment.”

Daniel Ricciardo: I just struggled to put the lap together

With plenty of anticipation about just how competitive the former AlphaTauri might be with the VCARB01 impressing during last week’s test, Ricciardo said the weekend has unfolded without issue so far – but he had failed to unlock the full potential of the machine at the critical moment.

“The weekend has been going pretty smoothly so far, and I was always relatively comfortable,” he said.

“Every session we make some subtle changes, so we’re still trying to chase the car a little bit, but nothing crazy. I would say quali when, probably in the conditions where everything’s normally the best, I’ve probably struggled a bit more than I have in other sessions.

“I think it’s just when you push the car to the limit, you kind of expose a few other things and maybe I wasn’t as proactive with that in reading the conditions in the car.

“I just struggled to put the lap together. I felt like, if I pushed really hard in one corner, then I would probably mess up the next corner. So I felt like it was a little bit tricky to just consistently improve in every corner. I felt like ‘Yeah, you gain a bit here, lose a bit there, then get it back… so it was a bit of a struggle.

“For example, Turn 1, I missed the apex quite a few times, just not getting the front in. But every lap was ‘Oh yeah, I know where that is’, you know to brake and turn a little bit earlier, but I would still be looking past the apex when I got there and being like ‘f**k!’

“I just missed it a little bit, in maybe some setup or feeling with tyres. But I would expect myself to be able to find that in a few runs in quali.”

Despite the disappointment with himself, Ricciardo said he’s hopeful of a stronger result, and perhaps points, on race day when long run pace comes into play.

“I definitely think we can still do it,” he said.

“Everything’s close, so there’s a lot to play for. I think you just have that extra tenth or two in the race and manage the tyres better, and then you can definitely be fighting in the points.

“I’ll shake off tonight and, in about 60/90 minutes, I’ll feel better and get ready for tomorrow. I’m excited to race again, definitely. I think quali was fun. It’s obviously intense and you get those kinds of nerves again.

“I’m confident to be better than what I qualified today. Nico [Hulkenberg] did a really good job today and, if you look at last year, [Haas] would normally struggle a bit more on race day, so, if that’s the same trend, then maybe that’s one car we can potentially fight.

“We weren’t too bad in the long runs, so there’s some optimism that we could maybe shuffle our way toward the front.

“It’s the first race. Anything can happen, as well. Some people might be excited. Some people might be nervous, or people might be ‘OMG’. So you never know. Just have to keep my head on a swivel and the rest will follow.”

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