Daniel Ricciardo believes he should have discussed his concerns about the qualifying plan at the Austrian Grand Prix with Red Bull earlier.
Red Bull operates a policy where it alternates which driver is the lead car on track during qualifying at each race. With Max Verstappen first out of the garage throughout qualifying in Paul Ricard last weekend, it was Ricciardo’s turn in Austria, but the Australian felt he was being unfairly disadvantaged and requested a change to the approach once out on track during Q3.
Asked if he’d been stitched up, Ricciardo replied: “During the, let’s say, heat of it all, I thought so.
“I’ve had a few discussions since with Christian [Horner] and with my engineer and I think that I had my concerns but I probably expected some of that to be obvious and I didn’t bring everything up before qualifying thinking it was a bit more obvious than it was.
“I think I probably should have just talked about it more beforehand. I had concerns and I spoke a bit with my engineer about it, but I guess as a team it wasn’t discussed.
“So from their point of view, when it gets into qualifying and they see us playing cat and mouse, they want to know what’s going on and they’re like ‘no one talked about this, so what are they doing?’ But in my mind, in the car, I was just like ‘well, it’s obvious what’s happening, isn’t it? Give me a run where I’m getting a tow instead of giving everyone else a tow.’
“It was probably miscommunication and if we talked about it maybe it would be different. I think during Q3 it was obvious what we were trying to do and for that last run I thought I would get a chance to have a tow, but I guess by that point I didn’t want to push the air again and Max didn’t want to give me a tow, so from his point of view it was like ‘well, we never talked about it so I’m staying where I am’ and I was like ‘this isn’t fair, so someone do something.’ So there was a bit of frustration from both probably.”
Ricciardo says he is not annoyed with Verstappen for ignoring the request to overtake, as it was not agreed before qualifying had started.
“I guess if we had committed to it before and said it in black and white that on the third run ‘you’ve got to do this, Max’ then I can be more upset. We both knew what was going on but I guess the competitor in us is not wanting to give an inch, so I’m not mad at him for that; that’s just how it is and how it goes. In the heat of it all it’s frustrating.
“There’s teammates, but in the end of the day in qualifying everyone is out there for themselves and that’s the truth. Everyone knows that and actually your teammate is the first guy you want to beat. I don’t expect it, it’s just a bit of cat of mouse, it’s fun but that fun turned into a bit of frustration because I was getting the short straw.
“In a way that’s how it is, but I think if it was addressed and in that situation we do have three runs, so that’s where I’m thinking from three runs if I’m the first car on track from our garage that’s luck of the draw, but maybe on one of the three I’ll get preference.
“But again, that’s me assuming rather than actually going through it with the team and addressing it. So what seems obvious to me wasn’t obvious to everyone and then when we brought it up during Q3 it probably seemed a bit chaotic for everyone.”