Taking to Q3 on used tyres, Esteban Ocon believes there was performance “left on the table” as he charged to P5.
Formula 1 took to the Red Bull Ring on Saturday for qualifying for the first-ever Styrian Grand Prix.
The session took place on a wet circuit but at least it took place as many in the paddock thought it would be postponed to Sunday morning such was the forecast.
Q1 proved to be a baptism of fire, or in this case water, for the drivers as it was the first properly wet session of the season.
Ocon struggled a bit in Q1 with Renault opting to send him out on a second set of full wet tyres to ensure he made it into Q2.
He did, and then comfortably progressed to Q3.
There, however, he was left without a new set of tyres given he had used two in Q1 and one in Q2 with drivers only handed three sets of Pirelli’s full wets for each race weekend.
That, though, didn’t bother the Frenchman too much.
Ocon clocked a 1:20.922 to bag fifth place on the grid. His time was just half a second shy of P2’s Max Verstappen.
“I felt confident straight away from the go, but we didn’t have new tyres in Q3 because we used two sets in Q1, which was a mistake,” said Ocon.
“From then on, it made Q3 a bit difficult, so I think there was performance left on the table.
“Each time it rains, I feel very comfortable in Formula 1.
“It’s been great to have those sensations again, very happy to be in the top five with my new team in this new season…
“Overall I think it’s a great starting position for tomorrow, and if it’s dry, we should have a great car as well, so I’m looking forward to it.”
As for Daniel Ricciardo, he finished ninth in his rebuilt RS20.
“When… FP3 got cancelled, I was like, ‘20th doesn’t look good right now;,” said Ricciardo.
“So I’m glad we got to qualify. I think it’s the first time we’ve driven this year’s car in the wet from memory, so it was nice to do a session and get to grips with it, and get into Q3.
“So I’ll take it if 20th was my other option. But just in the middle of that last session, I did a bit of a cool-down lap and tried to create some space and then I think the [tyre] pressures dropped, aquaplaning was getting tricky [and] it probably got away from me a little bit there.
“But not too bad, both cars in Q3. Just happy to make it through, obviously after yesterday. The mechanics did a good job repairing it. We can race from here. I’m okay with this.”
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