Daniel Ricciardo: P6 in qualifying a good recovery
Friday proved a nightmare for Daniel Ricciardo, with the Red Bull driver missing almost all of FP2 with an engine issue. But on Saturday the 2014 Canada winner rebounded strongly, qualifying just over a tenth back from team mate Max Verstappen in sixth. And in the race he expects to be even closer to those in front…
Q: Daniel, how did it go today? Are you remotely satisfied?
Daniel Ricciardo: It went relatively well considering yesterday. We did two flying laps yesterday without any issues so basically today we started from scratch. I have driven here many times – but it is definitely not Barcelona where you can get straight in. This track here is pretty tricky and it takes some time until the grip is coming. This morning we did as many laps as we could – being first on the track when it was still quite dusty. We just used the morning for mileage. We are still a bit behind but at least we got some data behind us. Me, I got some references - and then qualifying went pretty well! In Q2 we all looked quite close, but then in Q3 they – I mean Mercedes and Ferrari – they really turned it up. For me you never want to be behind your team mate – but realistically we did well even in that little battle. Sure I would have loved to find another tenth or so in Q3 – but I think in the end we can be pretty pleased with our recovery.
Q: When you look at your data, how much time do you actually lose on the straights to Mercedes and Ferrari once they turn up their engines?
DR: It’s a bit for sure. In Q3 I guess it was quite a lot. They for sure are able to carry more speed in some of the chicanes and corners, so they are able to pull quite a lot on the straight. They have got something special in Q3!
Q: How would you feel if you discovered that you were not going to get any big upgrades from Renault – only small bits and pieces every race?
DR: Yeah, I cannot control that. For sure we would love what the Mercedes cars have in Q3. Going down the straights, we might brake really early because the speed is so high. It would be nice to have more, but I guess we're used to this position. It is nothing new. We still are trying to pull things off with the chassis. We brought quite a lot to the car for this weekend and I think it is working. But to be honest qualifying is not so easy when you are down in Q3 like that. What gives us hope is the fact that we have a pretty good race car in terms of balance so it will be ‘calm’ on the rear tyres. Hopefully it will be a two-stop race and maybe can do a one-stop. Something like that.
Q: Do you know when you will get the update from Renault?
DR: I heard that originally it was Baku but I haven’t heard and haven’t asked.
Q: When you say you would love to have Mercedes’ qualifying setting…
DR: I don’t really know if today was Mercedes’ or Lewis’ pace as Valtteri (Bottas) was nowhere at Lewis’ pace. He was actually only a few tenths in front of us. I would say that Lewis likes this track. He’s had a lot of success here – and if you like a track you probably can extract one tenth or so. He did an excellent lap, but I am not convinced that they will be able to hold that in the race. I am sure they have to turn it down a bit. They also don’t seem to be so comfortable on tyres as they were last year. Let’s see. I don’t think that it will be so easy for them against Ferrari tomorrow. I feel that we will be closer than what we have seen in qualifying.
Q: Chassis-wise Montreal seems to confirm the Monaco upward trend. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Could the RB13 become a really good race car in the end?
DR: There are for sure some positives. And the final answer we will get tomorrow. On one lap we are still not on the pace. Yes, there were signs in Monaco of an upward trend on our side.
Q: Can it be that in the race you will be half a second off their pace? More or less…
DR: Well, that sounds like a lot but it would already be better than today. If we really can get it within half a second I would be super happy.
Q: The official message from the team is that you and Max [Verstappen] are not going anywhere else next season. Does that mean you are not talking to any other team?
DR: I am speaking to Seb (Vettel)! (Laughs) No, I don’t have any other discussions.
Q: What do you say about Lewis wearing the Senna helmet he was given in the race?
DR: Was that for equalling Senna’s pole position record? That is cool. I am happy for him. That is a cool gift!
Q: Have you ever driven with somebody else’s helmet?
DR: In the past I occasionally swapped. But not with any old dudes.
Q: You always wear a smile – but lately we’ve seen that other drivers are more on the smiling side in press conferences. Is that because the new owners make the environment more relaxed?
DR: Yeah, they have supplied everyone with a good dose of marijuana and I just got it naturally in my system! (Laughs) But what I have always thought is that some seem to be bored – and probably not grateful enough to be here. Then I think to myself: go and do another job! Because I think for all of us it is a dream come true. Even on bad days! Maybe more drivers have started to understand that more now.