Ricciardo cites opening lap choices for P11 finish

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo highlighted his decisions on the opening lap of Sprint Qualifying as the reason he will start 11th for the Formula 1 Sao Paulo Grand Prix.

The Australian started eighth on the grid but dropped a spot on the opening lap, ultimately falling another place when a charging Lewis Hamilton scythed his way past later in proceedings.

“It was really just, unfortunately, set from the first lap,” the Australian said.

“It was really just, let’s say, lane choice, basically. I did not pick the best lane, or best line, to put myself in.

“The actual launch was alright, but I chose to stay on the inside for Turn 1 and it just got a little more bottled up, so cars were able to carry that momentum on the outside.

“Then I kind of left myself a bit vulnerable because you’re outside of [Turn] 2, have to sort of compromise a little bit the exit there, and that’s when [Sebastian] Vettel got me as well.

“I wouldn’t go as far as saying like poor decision making for the first lap, but it was decision making which was not the best choice today.”

While Ricciardo slipped back three places, his McLaren team-mate Lando Norris gained one.

One of those came courtesy of the slow-starting Pierre Gasly, though the Brit also picked off the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc.

He ran as high as fifth for a time, though dropped to sixth when Hamilton put a move on him into the first corner as they began the final lap.

“It kind of started already quite early in the race,” Norris said of his battle with Leclerc.

“He locked up a few times on the first couple of laps just from defending, so he made a couple of mistakes here and that probably didn’t help with the tyre situation.

“It was good fun, but when we had all the laps, or the laps leading up to when I passed, and a few attempts before where I couldn’t get past, but then I had a really good run on that final lap that I did manage to get ahead of him.

“He defended aggressively, defended well,” he added.

“I managed to get inside of Turn 1, he had the door pretty close on me, so was hard to brake much later, otherwise I quite easily would have locked up and run into him.

“So, he was aggressive but respectful and fair.”

The result will see Norris line up for Sunday’s race fifth, once Hamilton’s grid penalty is applied, while Ricciardo will remain 11th.

As the Sprint Qualifying format is in use this weekend, all drivers have free choice of tyre.

The Sao Paulo Grand Prix gets underway at 04:00 AEDT on Monday morning.

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