Fourth feels like pole, says Ricciardo after best Renault qualifying
Daniel Ricciardo’s trademark broad smile was back with a vengeance in Canada, as he claimed fourth place on the grid with a stunning lap that will see him start Sunday’s race ahead of both Red Bulls and a Mercedes.
In his best qualifying effort of the year so far, Ricciardo’s Q3 lap saw him finish just 0.151s off Charles Leclerc’s P3 time in the rapid Ferrari, and ahead of both the Red Bull of Pierre Gasly and the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas in fifth and sixth, as he netted his third Q3 appearance in as many Grands Prix.
“I never thought I’d be so happy for a fourth place in qualifying – it feels like a pole position!” said a delighted Ricciardo afterwards. “It was so cool when they told me over the radio I was fourth.
“I’m really happy for the team today. This track is fun, I’ve always enjoyed it here. We seemed quick from the start of the day. Even yesterday we were fast, but we made further improvements and managed to put it all together for qualifying.
“It’s good, it’s really good. It shows that there is certainly something there [in the Renault package]. For sure with the car, it’s making progress, it is getting better – that’s shown in the past three weekends, but me personally as well, the more seat time I’m getting in it, the more I’m starting to get on top of it.”
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Ricciardo was left frustrated last time out in Monaco when, having made it up to a strong P5 early in the race, Renault strategy left him to struggle home in ninth. And the Australian is on the hunt for some retribution on race day in Montreal, where he could be aided by a quick getaway thanks to starting the race on the grippier soft tyres, compared to the three drivers in front of him starting on the mediums.
“Obviously we do want to capitalise tomorrow in the race and get the bag of points that maybe we lost in Monaco,” said the 2014 Canadian Grand Prix winner. “We’ll see about tomorrow – the start could be interesting. For now, we’ll enjoy this moment as a fourth in qualifying is huge for us.”
Ricciardo’s starting position, meanwhile, marks Renault’s best qualifying since Robert Kubica took third on the grid in Suzuka all the way back in 2010. And with team mate Nico Hulkenberg and both McLarens qualifying in the top 10 – albeit that a three-place grid penalty demoted Carlos Sainz from eighth to 11th – it represented a fine afternoon’s work both for Renault’s cars and their power units.