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Ricciardo explains dramatic slump in Miami after going from P4 in Sprint to back of the grid in qualifying

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MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 04: 18th placed qualifier Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB

RB driver Daniel Ricciardo experienced a day of two halves at the Miami International Autodrome as he went from starring in the Sprint race and scoring his first points of the season to struggling in qualifying and suffering a Q1 exit.

Ricciardo was a standout performer in Saturday’s 100-kilometre dash as he kept the Ferrari and McLaren machines of Carlos Sainz and Oscar Piastri behind him to cross the line in fourth position and claim a morale-boosting haul of points.

READ MORE: Verstappen clinches pole position for Miami Grand Prix ahead of Leclerc and Sainz

However, just a few hours later, the Australian found himself on the wrong side of some fine margins during the first phase of qualifying for the Grand Prix, meaning he missed the cut and wound up in 18th position.

Asked to explain how his car can go from the one he had in the Sprint to the one underneath him in qualifying, Ricciardo lamented: “It’s one of those things, you know… it can change so quickly.

“I think, honestly, I saw Lando [Norris’s] lap in SQ3 yesterday, where straightaway from the start of the lap you could see he was sliding his rears everywhere on the soft [tyres], where he obviously struggled a lot, and I honestly felt the same.

Qualifying Highlights: 2024 Miami Grand Prix

“Already on that last set [of tyres] coming out of Turn 1 I started sliding, had a wobble into Turn 7, then went wide and it was a spiral effect. What was strange is it started already at the start of the lap, so it’s one of those things with this sport where it treats you nice until it doesn’t.

“We’ll look into it, but everything seemed fine approaching the lap, so it’s one of those things. We simply didn’t have the grip on that second set – simple as that.”

AS IT HAPPENED: Follow all the action from qualifying for the Miami Grand Prix

Given his strong run on the medium tyres in the Sprint, Ricciardo expressed optimism that he can make progress from the back of the field in Sunday’s Grand Prix, with his 18th-place grid slot becoming 20th after the application of a penalty picked up in China.

“I genuinely think we’re not an 18th-place car and it was just… hopefully we understand why sometimes the tyres behave as they do,” he continued. “I chatted a little bit to Lando yesterday, we didn’t go into detail, but I just said, ‘It looked like you were on used hard tyres on your Q3 run’, as it was clear as day how bad it looked.

“Hopefully we can maybe get an answer on that. We’re quicker than obviously what we showed, so we’ll just see what tomorrow brings. We have the penalty, so I think we’re dead last, so a contrast to this morning.

We’re not an 18th place car’ – Ricciardo looking for answers after dramatic drop off in pace from Sprint to qualifying

“Obviously I’m not happy, but it’s also one of those things… this morning I told the team let’s at least enjoy this for the next 30 minutes because this sport is highly unpredictable.”

On the other side of the garage, team mate Yuki Tsunoda enjoyed a much more positive end to the day as he built on his recovery from 15th to eighth in the Sprint to reach Q3 in the second qualifying session of the weekend and secure 10th on the grid.

READ MORE: Who is Andrea Kimi Antonelli – and why is he such a hot topic in the Miami paddock?

“The team did a fantastic job, especially the car performance was great all around the week,” Tsunoda commented. “Yesterday I wasn’t able to extract the performance and today I wanted to go to Q3.

“Probably I could have done better a little bit, I’m not really fully proud of my lap, but definitely I got help from the car performance and I was able to go to Q3. I’m very happy that I can start in the top 10, a much better place than the Sprint race, so maximum focus for tomorrow to score points.”

RB head into the sixth race of the season holding sixth position in the constructors’ standings on 13 points, six clear of Haas, and comfortably ahead of Williams, Alpine and Kick Sauber, who are all yet to score.

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