Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull “could have been more fair” with its approach to qualifying at the Austrian Grand Prix after complaining about giving Max Verstappen a tow.
During Q3, Ricciardo was told to complete his timed lap with Verstappen behind him on track, but complained, “There’s no point me running, punching a hole. Let’s at least go one for one,” to which his race engineer replied, “We’ll get a go on the next one.”
Verstappen was then told to overtake Ricciardo, having left the garage behind his teammate for the final attempts, but refused, saying: “No, it’s discipline.”
After the session, Ricciardo said he felt Red Bull had not been fair with its approach to the session.
“Yes I am not too impressed, to be honest,” Ricciardo said. “We had three runs and I was just punching a hole for everyone. I think if I got one run, fair enough but… I’m not that happy that is all.
“We could have been more fair.”
Verstappen explained that it is Red Bull protocol to have one car in front of the other throughout qualifying, and doesn’t expect his teammate to be angry at him for not adhering to the request to switch during the session.
“Because we always agree before the weekend, so he was going in front as I was going in front at Paul Ricard,” Verstappen said. “He was going in front the race before, so we discussed that. This was his weekend to go in front — that is how it is. It is very simple.
“Every run at Paul Ricard I was in the front, so we have to do the same here. We have to do the best qualifying possible and of course to try and take advantage from that. But if they say you have to drive in front for the whole qualifying, that’s what you have to do. That’s what I did at Paul Ricard.
“Of course it was Daniel’s turn here. We always try to get the best possible position here so Daniel and I will be good.”
With Ricciardo ending qualifying seventh as Romain Grosjean managed to split the two Red Bulls, team principal Christian Horner confirmed Verstappen’s comments, saying Red Bull has employed the same approach for a number of seasons.
“We have a very simple policy here that’s operated for the last seven years, is that we alternate from weekend to weekend who drives out of the garage first,” Horner told Sky Sports. “It’s the only way to keep it scrupulously fair from circuit to circuit.
“This weekend was Daniel’s turn to drive out of the garage first ahead of Max. Obviously he felt that Max might be benefiting from that. That’s why he started to back up a bit. I think fifth and seventh are probably as much as we could do today, and hopefully we could have better pace tomorrow.
“The drivers know explicitly every weekend it alternates. Last weekend, Max drove out first, Daniel would have followed him. Next weekend it will be the other way around. Even in the debrief, from weekend to weekend, there it’s who talks first. It’s the way to keep it as scrupulously fair as we can. They know the situation. There’s nothing to explain.”