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Ricciardo says Q1 elimination on home soil ‘hasn’t sunk in’ as RB team mate Tsunoda makes Q3 in Melbourne

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For two RB team mates fighting to put themselves in contention for a Red Bull Racing seat in 2025, it was advantage Yuki Tsunoda in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, as Daniel Ricciardo suffered a Q1 elimination while Tsunoda made it all the way through to Q3.

Ricciardo initially looked to have bagged a spot in Q2 on home soil at the Albert Park Circuit before a lap deletion for track limits at Turn 4 saw him relegated into the drop zone and out of contention.

FACTS AND STATS: Ricciardo's first ever Q1 exit in Melbourne spoils the Australian's homecomin

On the other side of the garage though, a strong qualifying from Tsunoda saw him make it to Q3 ahead of both Mercedes cars, before putting his RB eighth on the grid – meaning he’s set to start the Melbourne race a full 10 places higher than his eight-time race-winning team mate.

“Definitely happy,” said Tsunoda afterwards. “I didn’t expect, to be honest with you, to be in P8 – even [to be in] Q3 as well after Q1, when I saw Williams and a couple of teams also picked up quite a lot of pace. But also I think I’m able to gain a lot of lap time in a couple of places, [specific] corners, that put me into Q3, so I was really happy, and definitely a big credit to the team that’s able to give me a very consistent car throughout the week. I think from FP1 I’ve felt quite comfortable.

“What we need now is… no mistakes, to concentrate ourselves to have a clean race. The last two races were very frustrating for us, so that’s what we need for now, first step. And I think if we’re able to put it all together, maybe we can score points. Anything can happen here, especially what we saw last year.”

‘Really happy’ Tsunoda credits RB team after making Q3 in Melbourne

Set to start P18 in front of his home crowd, three-time pole-sitter Ricciardo felt that something about his lack of performance in 2024 wasn’t adding up, as he reflected on the Q1 lap time deletion after the session.

“I wouldn’t even say it sunk in when it happened,” he said. “Pierre [Hamelin, race engineer] told me and I kind of knew what it meant, but I don’t know – even now I don’t think it’s fully sunk in because the lap, I knew Turn 4 I was fighting it and I knew I washed a little bit wider, obviously. But it happens and then you think about the next corner. So I nearly forgot about it until he brought it up.

READ MORE: Verstappen surges to pole position for the Australian Grand Prix ahead of Sainz and Perez

“But the lap, honestly, I felt like I gave it all I had. So I was happy with the lap, but I wasn’t happy with still where we are in terms of the stopwatch. So for me, that’s still not quite adding up in my head where I think it should be. It’s been a struggle all weekend, but you know, come qualifying, everyone puts in on and you can see where you’re at, and that lap was all I had and still slow.

“I’ve done enough of these laps and qualis and all that to know where I am, and still there’s some things I think where we’re missing.”

‘I don’t think it’s fully sunk in’ – Ricciardo in disbelief after deleted time knocks him out in Q1

Ricciardo felt the Q1 elimination was all the more galling given the work put in by the RB team since a disappointing showing in Jeddah two weeks ago.

“The team’s put a lot of effort in since Saudi to fix some things that we saw, and adjusted the car and put on some new parts here and there, and it looked better but I’m still a little bit sceptical,” he said.

READ MORE: Verstappen enjoys ‘unexpected’ pole in Australia as he predicts ‘very exciting’ race amid Ferrari threat

“The car itself, I feel the balance is all in the window. I feel I’m driving and I’m not really struggling with anything in particular, but then you’ll see just some corners, I’m a chunk slower, but that’s kind of all I’ve got. I’ve got some thoughts, but I just know a lap like that – it’s normally faster.”

RB will head into Sunday’s race looking to get off the mark in the constructors’ standings after a difficult start to 2024, the team one of four – along with Williams, Kick Sauber and Alpine – yet to score this year.

Qualifying Highlights: 2024 Australian Grand Prix

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