‘Brave’ set-up changes were key to Daniel Ricciardo equalling his best qualifying result for the year to date after a poor Thursday in Monaco.
The Renaults were 16th and 17th fastest in the opening day’s practice at the sixth round of the Formula 1 season as Nico Hulkenberg edged his Australian team-mate.
While Ricciardo claimed that they could “definitely be better” after that showing, the R.S.19s were still only 11th and 12th in Saturday’s third practice session, with Hulkenberg again marginally quicker.
Come qualifying, however, Ricciardo went seventh fastest, matching his China effort, but will now start sixth after a grid penalty was handed to Pierre Gasly.
“We made some brave changes with the set-up after FP3, and I think we had to,” said the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix winner.
“We improved from Thursday, but it still wasn’t enough, and I don’t believe it was enough to get us into Q3. We had to do something and just get on with it.
“To be top seven, we would have definitely taken that result looking back at where we were Thursday. It paid off, and the team are happy with the recovery.”
The West Australian attributed his gains to upping the influence of his R.S.19’s front wing, which he had been reluctant to do so far this season.
“For me when I came into the car initially, I thought the front was a bit strong for the rear,” he noted.
“So I was trying to dial front grip out. But coming here this weekend it seemed we needed to go a fair bit back to what I initially didn’t like.
“Around here it seemed to be what we had to do. That was where it was at. My kind of preference, it has helped up until this weekend, but we’ve gone back to being more aggressive to the front.
“As the session went on, we added more and more front wing, and we didn’t really find a limit which scared me, so that was cool.”
A 60 percent chance of rain has been forecast for the Sunday’s race in the Principality, which Ricciardo suggested he is hoping for.
“I wouldn’t be disappointed if we woke up to rain tomorrow,” he stated.
“Where we are, some variables could make it interesting. I’ll be ready for both conditions.”
Hulkenberg qualified 11th for Sunday’s 78-lap race, which starts tonight at 2310 AEST.