Daniel Ricciardo joked he will go and see Helmut Marko after beating both Red Bull drivers in qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.
Max Verstappen was eliminated in Q2 after Kevin Magnussen’s crash ended the session prematurely, and then Ricciardo managed to pip Pierre Gasly to fourth on the grid by 0.008s. After his best qualifying result since leaving Red Bull for Renault, Ricciardo admits the starting position is more important than who he is ahead of, and he was more surprised to outqualify Valtteri Bottas in the Mercedes.
“I have to go and see Helmut!” Ricciardo said. “I gotta make the most of it while I can. P4 is sweeter, second row, very sweet for sure. We knew once Max was out that in Q3 we could have a real run. Q2 Gasly was four-tenths ahead of me, but I was not that happy with my lap.
“So I knew there was some free time for me to take. But he also had two sets of new tires, so I was like it will need to be a perfect lap to get him. But to then get Valtteri as well, I saw he had a spin, I don’t know what happened on the second run. I guess he still had a second set of tires. To put it together was cool. Still quite excited.”
After his third Q3 appearance in a row, Ricciardo says his current run of form is a sign of how much more at home he feels in the Renault compared to the start of the season.
“I definitely got more comfortable with the car really each weekend that I do. Three Q3s in a row now and that is showing. With the engineering team we’ve hardly touched the car all weekend. So already coming into the weekend they kind of know more or less what I need from the car and what I like.
“That is a sign as well — when you don’t touch a car much on a weekend — that there is a good correlation between us. That is also giving me confidence now just to drive the car that I know and getting familiar with it.
“I knew we had a chance of Q3 here, but I didn’t think this would be a standout. There are fast chicanes, a lot of curbs. That is one thing we have been trying to make as good at the Red Bull is on that — curbing and braking and absorbing bumps. We have come a long way since Melbourne. It is pretty nice to get that around here.”
Ricciardo believes he can fight against the Red Bulls to try and retain his position, despite Max Verstappen claiming he will comfortably climb back into the top five.
“I have a chance; I don’t know how their long runs were yesterday but if we have good race pace even for our level, I think we can. You can overtake but it is not the easiest track to overtake. If I can hold good pace and keep my tires healthy throughout the stints then we could have a chance to remain in the top five.”