Daniel Ricciardo identifies prime suspect after wild fluctuation in Miami performance

Thomas Maher
Daniel Ricciardo, RB, 2024 Miami Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo has explained his perspective on his day of two halves on Saturday in Miami.

Having qualified for and raced to fourth place in the Miami Grand Prix Sprint, Daniel Ricciardo was knocked out in Q1 in qualifying.

The Australian driver had to deal with the low of a poor qualifying session in Miami, mere hours after racing to a season-best result of fourth place in a race session – his best result since the end of 2021.

Daniel Ricciardo knocked out in Q1

With a 1:28.617 in Q1, Ricciardo was unable to make it any further in qualifying as he only managed 18th – one of the five cars eliminated at the first hurdle in Miami.

Having finished fourth and holding off Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz in the Sprint race earlier on Saturday, Ricciardo’s poor qualifying and disappointment was exacerbated by a three-place grid penalty he carried into the weekend from his Safety Car overtake transgression in China two weeks ago.

Starting last for Sunday’s Miami Grand Prix, the RB driver laughed as he approached the media in Miami, jokingly requesting that he only got questions about the Sprint race.

Turning serious to explain his poor qualifying session, Ricciardo pointed to the tyres as being an issue and said he felt how McLaren’s Lando Norris had been after Sprint Qualifying. The British driver had been rapid through SQ1 and SQ2, only for the McLaren’s pace to fall away when he swapped to the ostensibly faster soft tyre.

“I feel like it was one of those ones where I don’t think we could have done anything in terms of I didn’t have the grip starting the lap,” Ricciardo said.

“I generally felt like Lando how he felt yesterday in SQ3. I don’t know what he said afterward, but I saw his lap and he went pretty much a second slower on that soft. You could see him sliding already from the exit of Turn 1 and it was a mess, and that’s honestly how I felt.

“It didn’t feel like that second set of tyres give me typically what it should with a new soft, so I felt like we were a little bit kind of handicapped. Obviously, we don’t have an answer why, I’m not sure if Lando had an answer yesterday, but I definitely felt his pain.

“That’s frustrating, but it’s not like we changed the car and changed something different and were like, ‘We shouldn’t have done that.’ The first set was fine. There was, as always, some time to find and I felt like it was definitely quite easy to find on that second set even with a new set of tyres and track and a bit less fuel.

“The lap time’s there in the car, I simply just don’t really know what happened with that second set of tyres. It’s kind of a sh***y thing to say because there are no facts behind it, but you feel it when it doesn’t give you what you want, so that’s where the frustration lies.”

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Daniel Ricciardo: Nice to put a couple of middle fingers up

Having received a new chassis at the Chinese Grand Prix following his tough start to the season, Ricciardo’s improved showing in the Sprint said it was nice to feel the “dog” inside of him come out as he battled to hold quicker cars behind him.

“It’s so nice to fight at the front, of course, but then to be just holding for what we know are faster cars, it feels like a statement,” Ricciardo said. “It’s nice. It’s nice to still have that dog in me; it’s cool. A lot of people like to talk s**t so it’s nice to [put a] couple of middle fingers up, subtly.”

Hacing scored his first points of the season, Ricciardo said F1 continues to show it’s a “very interesting sport” in which “everything changes quickly”, and said he and his RB team had capitalised on the opportunity they generated through the Sprint portion of the weekend.

“The first few races everything that kind of could have gone wrong did go wrong,” he said.

“So we had a little bit of a sniff yesterday and I feel like we capitalised on that. So this morning as well, the start was good, everything was going well, and I just felt like it was time to capitalise, and make some noise.

“Here we are, four hours later, starting last for tomorrow!

“Honestly, the weekend has still been good. This afternoon, we’ll look into it – it’ll probably dictate the rest of our weekend but I don’t think it’s a reflection of our weekend. It’s still been really positive, would love to be out there in Q3 with Yuki but we’ll try and understand it for tomorrow.”

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