Daniel Ricciardo’s ‘at the limit of potential’ admission after ‘best qualy lap’

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo looking serious

Daniel Ricciardo failed to make it out of Q1 after losing his lap time.

Booted out of his home qualifying at the first hurdle having exceeded track limits, Daniel Ricciardo says he was at the “limit” of his VCARB 01’s potential at the Albert Park circuit.

Already under pressure after Helmut Marko’s recent comment about the RB drivers being “too slow”, it briefly looked on Saturday as if Ricciardo would progress into Q2 for the Australian Grand Prix as he had clocked the 10th fastest time in the opening segment.

‘It’s not like say McLaren where I was a bit unsure’

Minutes later, though, his name plummeted down the timesheet to 18th place when his 1:17.466 was deleted, leaving him with a time that was six-tenths slower.

He admits he knew at that moment he had taken a wider line than normal, but by the next corner had forgotten all about it.

“I knew at the time, Turn 4, I was fighting it, and I remember taking more kerb than I usually am, so I knew I was wider than usual. But it’s funny, you do it, and already after Turn 5, I’ve forgotten about it,” he said.

“So I did the lap, and then eventually when Pierre [Hamelin, race engineer] told me, honestly I’d forgot all about it. I think it took a while for it to sink in.

“I’m very aware of track limits, and I know if you go past, you’re going to get the time deleted. So it’s not like I’m arguing with the fact.

“I think deep down, part of me is frustrated that I have to push the car that hard to put me in a position where I’m risking too much.”

That came with mixed emotions as Ricciardo reckons that was “definitely the best qualy lap that I’ve done this year, and those ones are normally quite good”.

He, however, was still surprised by his deficit to Yuki Tsunoda

“I was happy with from my side, I felt like I got everything out of it, and then when I saw it still wasn’t good enough, let’s say compared to Yuki, that for me is… yeah, I’m still a bit puzzled,” he said.

“I know what those laps normally mean, and I crossed the line being like ‘yeah, that was a good one’, but those ones are normally enough, more than enough, and it’s still not. And then looking at the time he’s doing in Q2, I could tell you know, I can’t get seven more tenths out of it than what I got in Q1.

“So I’m sure there’s a bit of track evo, but honestly there’s still some things we’ve got to look at, because it’s been definitely a struggle so far.”

But it’s nothing like when he was with McLaren.

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“With the car I’ve felt, like I feel confident in terms of braking and balance and all that. It’s not like, say, McLaren where I was a bit unsure and I can’t push the car. But yeah, some corner speeds I see, simply not able to gain enough speed,” he added.

“I feel like I’m at the edge with the car, in terms of like four-wheel sliding, so it’s balance and I feel now I’m at the limit of where its potential is.

“After Saudi, we saw some things across cars, the team changed quite a lot and gave me quite a few new parts for this weekend to address some of those issues and concerns.

“It looked like it was better, but I still, I’m still not fully convinced, like I said, we still feel like we’re struggling more than we normally are in a car that again I’m pretty happy with.

“It’s not like I’m like, yeah it’s really struggling here or here, it’s actually been a pretty nice car to drive. Just the lap time is proving otherwise.”

The Aussie faces a tough challenge on Sunday clawing his way into the points but hopes a two-stop strategy and tyre wear could bring him into play.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked when he can do from the back row of the grid. “I don’t even know if I’ve figured out, I don’t think it’s sunk in where I start. It’s certainly painful. The only thing I can be optimistic about is the home crowd is great.

“I think it’s probably a two-stop race with tyre wear and that opens up a bit more opportunity, maybe if I can be a bit nicer on the tyres that could provide something, and hopefully some guys struggle with graining and a few things like that.

“Hopefully we can charge through the field but yeah I’m still a bit… still kind of occupied on where the lap time is currently in this car.”

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