Ricciardo: Second row start ‘a big result’ for Renault

Daniel Ricciardo

Renault racer Daniel Ricciardo was left smiling after qualifying a season-best fourth at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Qualifying was dominated by Mercedes with Great Britain’s Lewis Hamilton (1:41.252s) leading team-mate Valtteri Bottas (1:41.763s) of Finland, the pair split by half a second.

Dutch driver Max Verstappen (1:41.788s) was third for Red Bull and only a few hundredths slower than Bottas.

Fourth was the Australian (1:42.061s), who ended the session eight tenths away from the pole position time, but set the fastest final sector of anyone.

It’s the best qualifying performance of the season for Ricciardo, whose best effort prior to Belgium was fifth in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone.

“Second row, it’s only my second second row with Renault, so it’s a big result for us, absolutely,” said Ricciardo.

“The car felt cool, it was hooked up. Even looking at the times we did here last year, we’re a lot faster than at least we did on the same circuit.”

The 31-year-old said he was particularly pleased having been able to convert some of his practice pace – which saw him as high as second on Friday – into a strong qualifying result.

“It felt fun,” said Ricciardo.

“When it’s hooked up, especially through the second sector, it’s fast and flowing and certainly a good feeling.

“I think I was purple in the last sector, so it’s been a while since we’ve had a purple sector in Q3. A lot of positives to take today.

“Yesterday, I could actually sense in the office after FP2, everyone was quite nervous.

“They were like ‘Man, you’re P2 today’, so you feel like you could only go backwards from here in a way.

“You feel like the bar is set so high so we’re going to be let down (on Saturday). So to hold a second row, I think everyone is pretty stoked.”

Spa-Francorchamps is renowned for its changeable weather, and rain has been forecast on and off throughout the weekend.

However, the Australian said a dry race would be ideal to try and claim his first podium with the Renault F1 Team.

“Normally the midfield teams have a better chance of a podium with a wet race with all the chaos,” said Ricciardo

“But the way we are (in qualifying) and this weekend, we’re probably more hoping for a dry one. Whatever it is we’ll be ready. It feels good.”

The Belgian Grand Prix takes place tonight at 23:10 AEST.

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