Ricciardo ‘got away with it’ but wanted P4

Jon Wilde
Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo had mixed feelings after qualifying seventh for the Sakhir Grand Prix – being able to shake off his initial disappointment.

The Australian was expecting more after Q2 when he thought he had failed to extract the maximum performance from his Renault, but instead he was slower in the all-important Q3.

As a result, Ricciardo, who is ‘best of the rest’ in fourth position in the drivers’ World Championship and trying to help Renault clinch third place in the constructors’ standings, will start seventh on this shorter configuration of the Bahrain International Circuit.

“As far as grid spots go it’s not a disaster,” said Ricciardo, who will be one place ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, a direct competitor in the constructors’ Championship fight.

“I do think we had top-five in us, definitely in Q2 when I felt pretty quick and in the last sector I made a pretty solid mistake. So I knew there was more lap time in the car.

“I thought Q3 would come quite easily but I actually couldn’t even repeat my Q2 time with two attempts.

“We’ll have to figure out where it went wrong. It just felt like we had to work a bit harder for it in Q3.

“In the end, from my frustration crossing the line, I felt like seventh isn’t too bad. I feel like we kind of got away with it, but after Q2 I was certainly eyeing top-four, top-five.”

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Ricciardo is expecting the race to offer a fresh challenge to last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, in which he also ended up seventh, not least because the shorter length of the circuit means the distance will comprise 87 laps.

“It’s such a different set-up, later in the night as well,” said the 31-year-old. “Everyone’s running lower downforce, I imagine, so the car will behave a bit differently.

“I do feel a one-stop strategy is more in the picture this weekend but it’s still kind of 50-50.

“I think we’ll be up for a good race tomorrow. We’ll have to hang in there – I’m sure there will be a lot of DRS trains so maybe a bit of patience will be required.”

Ricciardo extended his qualifying head-to-head advantage over his team-mate Esteban Ocon to 15-1 as the Frenchman bagged P11, the duo being colleagues for only one more race after this one with the Aussie moving on to McLaren for next year.

Follow all the action from the Sakhir Grand Prix with the PlanetF1 live centre