“It’s so nice starting towards the front” — Ricciardo reflects on mega qualifying as he starts P4 for F1 Sprint in Miami

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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Friday was a memorable day for Daniel Ricciardo as he qualified in P4 for Saturday’s F1 Sprint as he excelled in SQ2 and SQ3.

He has yet to score points this season and entered the Miami Grand Prix with a goal to bring some points back home. Tomorrow represents a fantastic opportunity.

The Australian driver finished P11 in the only free practice of the weekend with a time of 1:29.178. He was three spots behind RB F1 teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Ricciardo managed to put himself P11 again in the first part of Sprint Qualifying with a time of 1:28.700 on new mediums, fractionally slower than Yuki Tsunoda as both RBs showed solid speed.

Things really started to look good for the Aussie in the second part of Qualifying as he placed his car in P5 on medium tyres with a time of 1:28.122, comfortably outpacing his Japanese teammate as Tsunoda clocked a 1:28.736 and could only manage 15th.

The Australian did a 1:28.044 on new soft tyres in SQ3. It was only 4 tenths off polesitter Max Verstappen, and it put him in front of both McLarens, Aston Martins, Mercedes’ and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz as he delivered when others struggled on the softs in the final segment.

When asked about his remarkable performance today, Ricciardo mentioned that he was not expecting a second row start and hoped for a P5 at best after his strong showing in SQ2.

“I don’t know. I don’t know. I mean, I know, I know. I’ve been able to do it before. So it’s, I know it’s in me.

“But yeah, I mean, did I expect to do a second row start? Probably not that good.

“You know, I felt really good in Q2 and I knew that lap would be good enough for Q3. So I think at that point we were P5. And in my head, I was like, ‘ah, P5 would be really nice for Q3’.”

He proceeded to explain how it is hard to put a perfect lap on this street track. Ricciardo also explained his struggles with the notoriously tricky turn 16 as he made contact with the wall twice on corner exit.

“And then we got P4 and it was, yeah, it was, it was wild because […] I mean, the laps were good, but they were, it’s hard to be really clean around here. It’s just a tricky track.

“And, you know, that little middle sector jumping across the chicane, it’s hard to get it right.

“So both laps, I hit the wall on the exit of 16. The first one was a hit. It actually felt pretty big for that, but yeah, kissed the wall.”

Ricciardo also talked about the new upgrades RB has brought in for the Miami Grand Prix. The Australian had chassis change at the Chinese Grand Prix and has a new floor this weekend.

The upgrades have been working well and pointing in the right direction for the team according to the 8-time Grand Prix winner.

“Obviously I had the chassis change last race in China and we have a new floor here. So it definitely looks like it’s turning around.”

The 34-year-old is confident he can get some points tomorrow and will look to tag along with the leaders in the opening laps to pull away from the likes of the Astons and Mercedes’ who are likely to be his main challengers as McLaren and Sainz should be too quick for the RB car.

“I think it’s just so nice starting towards the front.

“Even from the point of view, just kind of being out of that mid-pack, that kind of normally [leads to] a bit of chaos.

“So hopefully you kind of go with the leaders at the beginning, and then obviously it’s a short race.

“So hopefully get kind of through enough of it with them in the first few laps and end up with a good bag of points.”