Understeer frustrates Ricciardo in qualifying
Daniel Ricciardo has been left frustrated by understeer in his Red Bull during qualifying for Sunday’s Formula 1 French Grand Prix.
The Australian qualified fifth, one place behind team-mate Max Verstappen, after rain in the final practice session left him short of time to complete set-up work.
“I felt like my hands were tied a little bit so we basically had understeer quite early, and we used all the front wing quite early, so there was nothing else we could really do to address the understeer,” said Ricciardo.
“We tried to make a change, or we did make a change this morning for the session, but then it was wet and we had to come back to what we did yesterday.
“Fifth, it’s better than sixth, that’s alright, but the session itself was frustrating because in a way I was a passenger, or not a passenger, but just limited with what I could improve because of the limitations in qualifying.”
Running more downforce, Ricciardo is now hoping for a wet race, and expects a tough day in the office as he looks to move forward.
“With a dry race, put it this way, we’ve got more downforce than even my team-mate,” he said.
“I think I’ve got more downforce than everyone else and therefore passing probably won’t be that easy on the straights. So I need a good start and then go from there.”
Team boss Christian Horner confirmed Ricciardo and Verstappen had taken different set-up directions.
“Max is slightly lower downforce,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“We were pretty much (running) Spa levels of downforce, and unfortunately we’re still seven tenths down on the straight bits.”
Horner also suggested his drivers are battling for the final step of the podium, expecting Mercedes to dominate on Sunday.
“I think Mercedes are gone at this race. I think this tyre’s really suiting their car on this surface,” he said.
“As long as they don’t screw it up tomorrow they’re in pretty decent shape but I think we really have got a race with Ferrari.
“They’ve gone a different route, they’re starting on a different tyre. There’s high deg on that tyre, so hopefully that gives us more variables, more opportunities in the race.
“We’ve got two good race drivers and I think it’s going to be very difficult to pass here so it’s going to need to be done on strategy.
“You’re a long time on that left front tyre here, so it gets quite a hammering,” he added.
“If the sun comes back tomorrow, the temperature goes up, it could be interesting to see which strategy works out best.”
The forecasts suggest rain could play a factor for Sunday’s French Grand Prix, which is scheduled to begin at 00:10 AEST Monday morning.