RACE DEBRIEF

    While McLaren team mate Lando Norris has made Q3 at every race so far this year, Styrian Grand Prix qualifying saw Daniel Ricciardo miss out for the fourth time in the last six races. And that was all the more gruelling for Ricciardo, given that the Australian finished Free Practice 2 in a fine second place on Friday afternoon.

    Ricciardo had looked off the pace in FP3 after finishing down in P17, two places up on Norris after the Briton had a lap deleted for track limits.

    But once qualifying begun, Ricciardo’s best lap in Q2 was a full half a second slower than his team mate’s – a delay of nearly 1% around the short Red Bull Ring lap – with Ricciardo dropping out as Norris would go on to qualify P4, bumped to P3 after a penalty for Valtteri Bottas.

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    And it was a bitter pill for Ricciardo – who’ll start the Styrian Grand Prix P13 – to swallow, after going second in FP2 on Friday.

    “We just lost a lot of speed overnight,” said Ricciardo. “It wasn’t even quali we were slow… it had already started on the back foot this morning and whatever speed we had yesterday, it felt like it just vanished today.

    Daniel Ricciardo: Friday practice speed 'vanished' in Styrian GP qualifying

    “After yesterday, I’m not expecting to fight for pole here but it’s fair to say we weren’t expecting to be here today. I think if qualifying goes badly and we changed some things that didn’t work, you could kind of say, alright we messed up in quali. But the whole day we were just slow, so another one which is just a little difficult to comprehend at the moment.”

    Ricciardo said the pace deficit between him and Norris was even tougher to understand given how easy the lap time had been coming for him on Friday with a car that wasn’t “perfect” – with Ricciardo adding that analysing his team mate’s data overlays during qualifying had made for grim reading…

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    “There’s definitely a bit of set-up and stuff but… I didn’t think we had a perfect car yesterday but the lap time came,” said Ricciardo. “And today I felt in some areas like I was driving to the limit of the car; I felt I couldn’t go faster because I’d just run off the track. I felt like I was pushing it, it was just we were slower pretty much everywhere.

    “Absolutely I will have a look [at Lando’s data] and even during quali now, we get the overlays and it was literally every corner just slower, slower, slower, slower.

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    Ricciardo couldn't pinpoint where his loss of pace had come from

    “Even after yesterday, you’re like, things are starting to make a bit of sense, and then you get a day like today and it’s like, what?!

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    “For sure it’s frustrating, this sport is. I’ll try and figure it out and find some speed for tomorrow… but it seems like yesterday was a long time ago.”

    Going into the Styrian Grand Prix, Ricciardo has scored 34 points to Norris’ 76 – although the seven-time race winner had looked to have been making solid progress with the car after finishing behind Norris in P6 at last week’s French Grand Prix.