Ricciardo pleased with ‘smooth’ run to P10 grid slot in France, as Norris survives Q2 fuel scare

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE - JUNE 18: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) McLaren F1 Team

After a tough run of races Daniel Ricciardo was glad to be back in the mix in qualifying in France, focusing on how competitive he was against his rivals rather than his final grid position.

Ricciardo will start from tenth on Sunday having been slowest in Q3, but he was just 0.1s slower than team mate Lando Norris and competitive against the Ferraris. Having been much further off the pace in Monaco and Baku, the Australian says he’s relieved to be able to make progress at Paul Ricard.

“The position, no [not happy] – the day I’m happy with a tenth is the day I should probably stop racing!” Ricciardo said. “But from a weekend, it’s been a good weekend. No big issues, no big complaints. I haven’t felt like we’ve been scratching our head, or we’ve been lost, I think it’s been smooth.

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No big issues, no big complaints... I think it’s been smooth.

Daniel Ricciardo

“I think ultimately the best way to say it is everyone is fast at the moment. The competition is tough and I think of course maybe there’s a tenth in the car I can find, but ultimately those few tenths now we’ve got to keep developing and finding the speed.

“The car felt decent, there’s always bits you want to improve, but not a session where we’re throwing our arms up. Ultimately I think everyone has found some speed at the moment.

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“Of course, if you look at Lando, he’s a tenth up the road. So I’ll say there’s a tenth in the car for me to still find. It’s not one where I’m like there’s three tenths, four tenths on the table. It really felt like we were just driving to the limit of the car today. Not any bad behaviour, we were just using all the grip and track we could. For that I say the others are taking steps and the competition’s tight, so we’ll keep working.”

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - JUNE 06: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and McLaren F1 looks on from the pitlane

Ricciardo starts from P10 for Sunday's race at Paul Ricard - two places behind his team mate

Given how competitive the midfield is this season, Ricciardo feels his struggles have been amplified because of the small gaps, but it’s an aspect he particularly enjoys.

“Even Q2 I just got into Q3 by a tenth or something. That’s where I wish this was the battle for first, if you know what I mean… because it’s really you make a mistake, you lose a tenth in one corner, there’s no way you’re getting pole or being the leader of our group.

“I really like it. It can be frustrating when you’re at the tail end of that and a tenth can give you a few positions. Ultimately everyone is really quick and driving well and the cars are working well.

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“But in saying that you look at the times of the pole today and we’re actually still quite a big step… I don’t wanna be negative, it’s been a positive conversation, but there’s still obviously a lot of lap time to find with these current spec cars.”

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE - JUNE 19: Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren F1 Team

Norris was nearly derailed by a fuelling issue in Q2, but still made the top 10

Norris still got the better of the McLaren battle despite a scare in Q2 where he couldn’t complete his final run due to what turned out to be a fuel issue.

“It was just a couple of problems we had with the fuel going into the car properly, where we just didn’t have enough fuel,” Norris said. “So a slight issue. You sometimes need fuel to make it round! Not ideal, but it didn’t cost us, I did a good enough lap one in Q2 so I guess I can be satisfied that I did a good enough job and kind of saved us a little bit.

“It’s something to forget about for now, we don’t need to kick ourselves too much. We can look ahead to tomorrow and see what we can do better.

“I think it’s going to be just a tough race, our pace today shows we are not quite quick enough compared to the cars ahead. With [Pierre] Gasly being four tenths ahead and both the Ferraris, so clearly we’re not quite quick enough.”

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