Daniel Ricciardo says he’ll need a ‘bit of a curveball’ to hit tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix in order to improve from his seventh place qualifying effort.
The local hero declared himself satisfied with his personal qualifying effort after the struggling Red Bull-Renault package proved no match for the Mercedes, Williams and Ferrari entries.
Ricciardo had endured a fraught build-up to qualifying, with brake-by-wire issues in Practice 3 compounding ongoing struggles with the driveability of the Renault engine.
“If everyone was to stay on track then I think better than seventh would be all we could really ask for,” he said of Sunday’s race.
“If I sit around seventh and we finish the race and we learn a lot we’ll take it, but obviously you always want to look forward.
“Better than seventh will be great. Realistically, I think today is where we are and unless there’s a bit of a curveball tomorrow then we probably can’t do too much more on pure pace.”
Ricciardo believes that a smoother run through practice would have at least helped draw closer to the Williams/Ferrari battle.
“We were only about six tenths down the road from third place, so I think we definitely could have been closer,” he said.
“In saying that I think with the hour we had in qualy we did really well. We improved the car each run which for me was good.”
The 25-year-old confirmed that the team had to compromise the car’s set-up around the engine’s driveability issue.
While needing to keep expectations in-check, the ever-smiling West Australian stressed personal satisfaction with his performance, which was good enough to out-qualify team-mate Daniil Kvyat by six places.
“I don’t normally try and have too many expectations but your expectations change a bit knowing that Mercedes is two seconds quicker at the moment,” he said.
“But me personally, it doesn’t change how I drive. I drive 10 out of 10 every time and try and maximise it.
“I think that’s why I’m pretty pleased with today. I think I was able to get everything out of it.
“It’s only a seventh but at least me personally I feel satisfied with that or with what I did.
“I’d love it to earn us a pole in the near future but that’s where we are now.
“For sure I want to be fighting further up, but there’s not much more to do for now.”
Kvyat has even more modest expectations for his race having also suffered at the hands of reliability during the day.
After a litany of issues through Practice 3 and the early part of qualifying, a slide on the final corner of his Q2 lap ruined any chance of making the top 10.
“When you’re starting from back there it’s mainly circumstances and how the strategy is going to work for you,” he said of the race.
“There are plenty of things to look at. We have to just do our best. From P13, we cannot look back anymore.”