Second row start a confidence boost for Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

Progressive steps throughout qualifying culminated in Daniel Ricciardo finding the confidence to bank fourth on the grid for the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix.

The Australian got off to a slow start in the three-part session, narrowly escaping the cut at the end of both Qualifying 1 and Qualifying 2.

He then put in a strong lap late in Qualifying 3 to record a time which will see him start alongside championship leader Lewis Hamilton on the second row of the grid for Sunday’s race.

“If I look back, obviously the end result is good, and I think to get to get that in these conditions, obviously these [wet] conditions definitely require a significant amount of confidence and feel with the car,” Ricciardo explained.

“I think I chipped away at it.

“I was definitely a bit off in Q1, and I think Q2 made a good step, and then by Q3 I was I was getting a bit better and getting a bit closer to the edge.

“Maybe if there was Q4 I’d be further up again!”

Ricciardo was made to wait to set his lap after team-mate Lando Norris crashed heavily at Raidillon shortly after Qualifying 3 began.

Norris had been the fastest driver in both Qualifying 1 and Qualifying 2 before he triggered a 40-minute red flag for a frightening incident.

“First was just to try and obviously hear some good news,” Ricciardo said when asked by for his response to the crash.

“The team quickly told me that he’d radioed in saying, you know, he thinks he’s okay, so that obviously put a lot of us at ease.

“Then it was really just talking about the conditions as well,” he added

“It was raining quite a lot at the time when the red flag was out, so I was like, ‘we’re going to be sitting here a while and if you want to pass that message on to [FIA race director Michael] Masi then then do so.’

“That’s just trying to give them a bit of bit of my opinion on where I thought the track conditions and the state of the track was at.”

Sebastian Vettel, who was the first person to reach the scene of Norris’ crash, was outspoken in his criticism of officials in showing the green light to start the session.

The German also called for the session to be red flagged while still on his out lap, while Norris radioed back to the team reporting aquaplaning before commencing his own flying lap.

A fourth-place grid slot for Ricciardo marks his best starting place of the season and comes as a welcome boost.

“I would say getting a result like this, in these conditions, is definitely confidence boosting,” he admitted.

“If it translates to the dry or whatnot, who knows, but just from a pure level of confidence, and moving forward, I think as well if there’s another race that we go to, which is going to be wet or tricky conditions, I feel I’m going to jump into the car already with more of an understanding of what to expect.

“As I said, Q1 I was quite a bit off the pace and then I made good steps through the session.

“So, jumping in again to a qualifying session in the wet and knowing that I’ll be closer in Q1 already, I think that that fills me with a lot of confidence moving forward.”

The Belgian Grand Prix, the 200th of Ricciardo’s career, gets underway at 23:00 AEST tonight.

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