Ricciardo happy with progress after sealing his best-ever grid slot for McLaren in Belgium
Lando Norris’ heavy crash looked like ruining a day of big potential for McLaren, until Daniel Ricciardo delivered his best qualifying result for the team so far.
The Australian has struggled since joining from Renault over the winter and changeable conditions at Spa-Francorchamps were ones that really required confidence in a car. But Ricciardo found his own confidence improving the longer qualifying went on, eventually resulting in him securing fourth on the grid.
“I think it kind of showed that it took a few laps to get that confidence and these conditions certainly reward some feel and some finesse but ultimately confidence as well,” Ricciardo said. “So Q1 I was still a bit off but I was making improvements and then Q2 still a bit off but I made a really good step, and then I think Q3 was another good step.
“So I don’t want to say that it’s perfect yet, of course, but I’m really happy with the progress and obviously I just expect Q1 to be closer and then I can be in the mix early on. But yeah, second row, I’m going to take it of course. With these crazy weather conditions and everything I’ll take it with a smile.”
Having been so quick in wet conditions, Ricciardo admits it can be harder to replicate in a race scenario but says he’s happy whatever weather Belgium delivers on Sunday.
“The only thing with racing in the wet is visibility. So qualifying you can create space to a point where the spray is not too bad, but in a race you’re there. And even in P4 you’re going to have pretty much no visibility. So I mean that’s the only thing that makes racing in the wet less fun, because you literally don’t see. But for competitiveness-wise I don’t know.
“I think we’ve got a decent car in the dry, so if the sun’s shining I’m certainly not against that. We’ll see. Whatever I think or hope for, it ain’t going to change what will actually happen! So I think right now all I want is a warm shower, not a cold one, and we’ll go from there.”
Norris’ crash also raised further questions about the run-off areas through Eau Rouge and Raidillon and the way cars often end up back on the track, with the drivers briefed about planned changes to that section on Friday.
“I think they’re going to open up – so not change the layout of the circuit but push back the barriers and all that and try to open it all up. It’s obviously an extremely fun corner and an iconic corner on the calendar but when it goes wrong it’s always a big one. So if it doesn’t change the shape but just increases safety, of course we’re on board with that.
“Look, it was a big one today obviously. I believe Lando radioed in straightaway saying he’s OK for the most part so he’s getting medical checks now and we’ll keep in touch with the team and hear how he’s doing.”