Dejected Ricciardo shows first flashes of McLaren depths

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Perhaps it was expected after losing a lap time in front of his home crowd that unceremoniously dumped him out in Q1 for the Australian Grand Prix, but Daniel Ricciardo cut a broken figure after qualifying in Melbourne.

His final flying lap had been good enough to secure a Q2 berth but was quickly deleted for exceeding track limits at Turn 5 meaning he qualified 18th fastest – on the back row of the 19-car field.

Whilst admitting the humiliating demotion had “yet to sink it”, the Perth-native was upbeat about the actual lap he had driven and was far more concerned about the performance of team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who would go on to qualify in eighth, with a lap 1.3s faster than Ricciardo managed.

The downbeat Ricciardo was clutching at straws in the hope that some strategic brilliance would enable him to climb into the points in what is expected to be at least a two-stop race.

The result, and continued excellence of Tsunoda, is a dagger-blow to Ricciardo’s hopes of returning to the Red Bull seat he left in 2018 for next season.

But the eight-time Grand Prix hinted that the problem was more on his side than the car, in echoes of his flawed McLaren stint in which he would often admit he was just not capable of doing what Lando Norris was.

Ricciardo feels confident and able to push the car, but is simply at a loss to explain where Tsunoda can find the extra time he is unable to.

Realisation sets in

“I don’t know if I’ve figured out… I don’t think it has sunk in yet where I start, it is certainly painful,” Ricciardo told media including RacingNews365.

“The only thing I can think about is just that it is probably a two-stop race, so that opens up a few more opportunities, and maybe if I can be a bit nicer on the tyres, if some guys struggle with graining and maybe we can charge through the field.

“I am very aware of track limits and know that if you go past, you are going to get your time deleted, it is not like I am arguing with the fact, but deep down part of me is frustrated that I have to push the car that hard and it has put me in a position where I am risking that situation.

“I knew at the time that at Turn 4 I was fighting it, and I remember taking more kerb than usual, so I knew I was wider than normal.

“But it is funny, you do it, and after Turn 5, I’d forgotten about it and did the lap and then eventually [race engineer] Pierre [Hamelin], I’d honestly forgotten all about it.

“It took a while for it to sink in, but then I saw the lap itself, and I was happy from my side, I felt like I got everything out of it.

“When I saw it still wasn’t good enough, compared to Yuki, I’m still a bit puzzled because I know what those laps usually mean.

“Across the line, I was like: ‘Yeah, that was a good one’ and those ones are normally more than enough, if you know what I mean, and it is still not [good enough].

“Looking at the times he was doing in Q2, I can tell you now I can’t get seven more tenths out of it than I got in Q1.

“I am sure there is a bit of track evolution, but there’s some things we’ve got to look at, because it has definitely been a struggle so far.”

“It took a while for it to sink it, it is certainly painful”

– Daniel Ricciardo

Not the same as McLaren

“The lap itself was definitely the best qualifying lap I’ve done this year, and those ones are usually quite good, and going into Q2, I don’t know where there was much more time.

“Obviously, there are a couple of tenths from track evolution, but six, seven-tenths, that is not in it.

“With the balance, to be clear, with the car, I feel confident in terms of braking and balance and all that, so it is not like at McLaren where I was a bit unsure, and can’t really push the car here.

“Some corner speeds I see, I am just simply not able to carry that speed.”

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