'Not a result I feel good about at all' – Ricciardo at a loss to explain ‘grim’ Q1 exit in Portugal
Daniel Ricciardo had hoped he’d be “right in the mix” in qualifying after a positive Friday in Portugal, but in the event the Australian’s qualifying session lasted just 15 minutes as he was a surprise faller in Q1.
Despite qualifying sixth in each of his first two McLaren races, Ricciardo has suffered a somewhat tricky start to his career with the Woking team, struggling to match team mate Lando Norris’ pace while openly admitting he’s still getting to grips with his new machine.
And the seven-time Grand Prix winner was understandably frustrated to be knocked out of qualifying so early in Portimao after only managing P16 in a hugely competitive opening segment.
Asked what happened, Ricciardo said: “I don’t really know at the moment, it happened so quickly. I guess Q1 you get a few laps and certainly the laps were tricky, especially going toward the last sector it was really hard to hang on. But why we struggled, or why it was hard to put a lap together is not so clear at the moment.
“There’s something for sure, some tenths left on the table, but it was tricky. 16th is grim. Certainly not a result I feel good about at all.”
As team mate Norris went on to qualify P7, Ricciardo explained that he’s still not yet able to drive McLaren’s MCL35M on instinct – despite signs things are moving in the right direction in that regard.
“It’s certainly still trying to get out of an old style [of driving],” he admitted. “I’m still quite conscious of how I approach every corner, if you know what I mean. I felt like yesterday I made a good step towards that. I certainly felt comfortable yesterday, or more comfortable than a couple of weeks ago. That’s why to be standing here now is pretty dark.”
Ricciardo’s Q1 elimination was his first since the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, and McLaren’s first since Carlos Sainz failed to make it out of the opening segment in Brazil that same year. He’s now facing an uphill battle to maintain his 100% point-scoring record in 2021.