Many Australian F1 fans dared to dream that Daniel Ricciardo could battle it out in Q3 on his first outing for Renault in Melbourne. But a mistake on his final Q2 lap saw Ricciardo eliminated from that segment along with team mate Nico Hulkenberg – and he’s has now set his sights on coming back stronger in the race.
Renault were predicted to be the leading midfield team following pre-season testing in Barcelona. But they’ll find themselves behind Haas, McLaren, Alfa Romeo and Racing Point cars on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix – an unfair representation of the pace in the Renault R.S.19, believes Ricciardo, who lost out on a Q3 spot by just 0.038s.
“I knew it was going to be close,” he said. “But I did believe we did have the pace for Q3. I don’t know how deep we could have got into that top 10, but I was just half a tenth to get into Q3 and that was there, that was in the car.
“I actually lost it in the first sector – I was down a bit, close to a tenth there. So that alone, I was more frustrated with myself because I knew it was there in the car.”
The oft-quoted Ricciardo statistic is that six out of his seven F1 wins with Red Bull came from starting outside of the top four – and Ricciardo says he’ll be using that same racecraft prowess to try and come away from Melbourne with his first Renault points on the board.
“Normally if I don’t qualify as well as I think I can, I seem to carry a little chip on my shoulder for the race,” he said, “and that normally helps me out, so I’ll use this fuel for tomorrow.
“I definitely have a lot more confidence in [the car] today. Nico’s long run [on Friday] was strong, so very optimistic for the race. It will just be a case of if we can pass and attack, but I’m sure we’ll sneak into the points.”
Working in Renault's favour? A free choice of tyres on which to start the Grand Prix, with those ahead of them in the top 10 having to start on their Q2 set.