Pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix left Daniel Ricciardo anything but lost for words after beating teammate Max Verstappen by just 0.026s.
Verstappen was fastest in all three qualifying sessions as Red Bull set the pace at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, and the Dutchman was on provisional pole position after the first runs in Q3. Ricciardo was only fourth before his final attempt but pulled out an excellent last lap to snatch pole and had a typically bizarre way of explaining his emotions.
“I knew it was there somewhere,” Ricciardo said. “We hadn’t had the cleanest laps in practice and I just knew putting the laps together would be crucial as always. I knew the pace was in the car as Max had shown all weekend from start to finish, so I knew it was all about putting a clean lap together at the end.
“I still wasn’t convinced as it wasn’t the cleanest but putting it on pole, I can relax now because I’m tripping major nutsack right now.”
After a strong celebration on team radio, Ricciardo admits he was letting out some emotion after a frustrating run that has seen him retire from five of the last 10 races, but is wary of the job still to do on Sunday.
“I’m holding a lot in — I let a bit out when I heard I got pole, but I held a lot in. I have got to save some energy for tomorrow. Super happy. It’s been a while since pole. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good weekend in general.
“We have been quick all weekend from start. To get a one-two from a team point of view is awesome. We have to finish it tomorrow. To confirm that pace in qualifying is good. I knew there was a bit more in it and we squeezed it out at the end. It was a good fight. Just happy to put together a good run.”
With Verstappen starting alongside Ricciardo on the front row and Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel directly behind, Ricciardo highlights the run to the first corner as crucial to Red Bull’s hopes of converting pole into victory.
“It’s too early to say it will just be a race between each other. As nice as that would be, you never know on Sunday. It is a long run down to T1. Once you get going, tire wear has been significant this weekend so if you’re a quicker car, you can still overtake.
“Hopefully we’re the quicker car all day. I’d say we’re in a good position for sure. We’ll keep it chilled for now and do what we have got to do tomorrow.”