Ricciardo “really struggling with the high speed changes of direction” as he makes Q3 at F1 Imola GP

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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Daniel Ricciardo breathed a sigh of relief after he secured ninth place in the qualifying session for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix. 

His spot in Q3 is a major success for the midfield RB F1 team, particularly when considering the difficulties Ricciardo has been facing with the car this year in Grand Prix qualifying sessions, aside from China and Miami.

In FP2, Ricciardo found himself in 11th place, far behind his teammate Yuki Tsunoda, who impressively finished third, and the gap of almost 0.7s had raised some concerns about the pace of the 34-year-old.

“We were trying to catch up a bit, and the first sector was the one where we weren’t, I mean, we made small improvements, but we still lost a lot.

“I think the rest was okay, we still managed, obviously, to put it into Q3, both cars in Q3.”

Ricciardo’s final lap in Q2 edged out Sergio Perez by 0.015, allowing him to sneak his way through into Q3. 

The struggles in the first sector for Ricciardo highlights the difficulties many of the drivers faced in finding the right balance on the Italian circuit. His best first sector in qualifying was 0.221s slower than his Japanese teammate.

“As real qualifying’s go, it’s my first Q3 since Mexico, which is a relief, but it was also kind of sad… but how the weekend was going, we did make progress, so that’s promising,” he claimed.

“I felt good in the second and third sector… [it was] just the first sector I was really struggling with the high speed changes of direction,” Ricciardo noted.

The final segment of qualifying saw Verstappen securing pole position with a time of 1:14.869. Ricciardo finished in a solid ninth, two places and 0.2s behind Tsunoda, who continues to impress with his performance.

“He was really quick from the start. Obviously great credit to him, he was driving well all weekend.”

He also acknowledged how things still feel better since the new chassis in China, although this weekend has been a little tougher for him.

“I do feel comfortable here, in terms of, obviously, since China, things have been a bit better. Obviously, I’ve been a bit slower this weekend, but I don’t think that’s anything too strange,” he explained.