Ricciardo happy but hoped for more
By Mat Coch
Sunday 27th September, 2020 - 8:55am
Fifth place on the grid for the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix left Daniel Ricciardo satisfied despite hoping for more.
The Renault driver ended the red flag interrupted Qualifying 2 session fastest as Lewis Hamilton’s final run was compromised.
He then set the provisional fastest time as Qualifying 3 got underway before being bumped off the front row by Hamilton and his Mercedes team-mate, Valtteri Bottas.
A strong lap from Sergio Perez dropped him to fourth before a stunner from Max Verstappen after the chequered flag relegated him to the third row.
“Overall, I’m happy with fifth position for tomorrow,” Ricciardo said.
“I knew we weren’t in contention for pole position, but after the Q2 lap it felt like third or fourth was in reach.
“That lap in Q2 was perfect, so I knew it was going to be hard to improve on that.
“I did struggle a little more in Q3 and probably could have improved my time, but I am happy with where we ended up.”
Ricciardo’s qualifying performance comes off the back of solid pace throughout practice.
He was second best in Free Practice 1 and third quickest in Free Practice 2, though slipped to 10th in final practice on Saturday morning.
Friday’s effort in particular left the 30-year-old buoyed by his pace at a venue which has traditionally not been kind to him.
“I haven’t normally been strong at this circuit so to be quick all weekend is a positive,” he said after qualifying.
“We can definitely race tomorrow so it should be fun.”
Renault team-mate, Esteban Ocon, will start immediately behind Ricciardo on the grid after qualifying seventh.
The Frenchman’s 1:32.624s was just under three tenths slower than his team-mate.
“I think it’s a very decent result today,” Ocon reasoned.
“We’ve shown great pace this weekend and it’s definitely been strong with the car performing quite well.
“On my side, I’m happy with the result and the car was really good through all three sessions.
“All in all, we’re in the fight for tomorrow, so that’s very positive.”
On the pitwall, Alan Permane confessed to a degree of disappointment in the results after such a positive start to the weekend.
“It’s nice to feel disappointed with fifth as, arguably, we could have been fourth with Daniel had he repeated his lap from Q2,” said Permane, the team’s Sporting Director.
“That was almost a perfect lap and he couldn’t quite get there in Q3.
“We’re in good shape for tomorrow with both cars well inside the top ten.
“We’ll be looking for a very good points haul and to continue our decent form in races.”
Renault has scored points in the last three successive grands prix, with a worst finish if eighth at Monza for Ocon (he was a retirement in the Tuscan GP).
It has made inroads into the battle for third in the constructors’ championship, currently sitting 23 points in arrears of McLaren and nine behind Racing Point.
The Russian Grand Prix is scheduled to begin at 21:10 AEST.