Daniel Ricciardo admitted he feels “a little bit hurt” at not being higher up the grid as he did not manage to run a second flying lap in Q3 at Imola.
His McLaren team-mate Lando Norris took third place on the grid for Saturday’s sprint qualifying, while Ricciardo will line up P6.
While it was comfortably McLaren’s best qualifying showing of the season so far, the Australian was left feeling a little annoyed he had been unable to qualify closer to the front as he had one less opportunity to run a fast lap.
Q3 was interrupted by three separate red flag periods which interrupted running throughout the 12-minute session and affected some drivers more than others, with Ricciardo one to lose out on setting lap times due to the stoppages.
As with Norris believing a front-row start had been possible, Ricciardo was pragmatic after qualifying, feeling more had been possible for him as well despite being at the “pointy end” of the field.
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He said after the session: “On paper, it’s pretty good. I feel a little hurt because I think pretty much everyone in front of me did two laps and I just got the one because of the red flags. With the improvements on the second lap, I really feel I could be significantly further up, but that’s all right.
“I’m happy we had good pace and happy we are in a good position and up the pointy end. We’ll fight hard for the rest of the weekend and I’m looking forward to the sprint. It will be fun.”
McLaren racing director Andrea Stella was also pleased with the progress the team has made, particularly when it came to the MCL36 being able to adapt to the changing conditions around Imola on Friday.
But despite their improved showing, he is not allowing the team to get ahead of themselves.
“We’ve had a positive start to the first sprint weekend of the season. The car behaved well across the wet and dry conditions we experienced today, while the drivers and the team operated very well to adapt through the frequently changing conditions.
“Unfortunately, there are no points on offer today and we’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’ll make sure our feet stay firmly on the ground and we will prepare as best we can for the sprint tomorrow and Sunday’s grand prix.”