Daniel Ricciardo says he and Max Verstappen traded middle finger salutes after a close battle in qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying but Valtteri Bottas struggled compared to his teammate and was less than 0.1s clear of Ricciardo in third and Verstappen in fourth after the first runs in Q3. Ricciardo aborted his final lap and Verstappen jumped him for third place — just missing out on beating Bottas — and after the session the two former teammates enjoyed a joke with each other.
“It was quite funny, actually — I got out of the car in parc ferme and I looked over in his direction,” Ricciardo said. “And he was already looking at me. He was waiting for my response, and we both gave each other a friendly middle finger. A little bit of banter.
“Him and the two Mercedes have been for the most part in a league of their own on Sundays this year. So it’ll take something extra to hang with them tomorrow for the whole duration. But we do have a strong first and third sector, so if we could get ahead maybe it is a track that we could defend on.
“They are very strong in the second sector but it is tricky to overtake in the second sector, so I will certainly try to make life difficult for him and the Mercedes guys, if that was somehow in reach.”
Renault has shown strong performance at Spa-Francorchamps all weekend, continuing a trend from last season, and Ricciardo is confident it will result in good race pace both here and at the next race in Monza.
“We are pretty light (on downforce). It was a characteristic of the car last year — for whatever reason the car seems happier with a little bit less load on it. Obviously you cannot run this low around a circuit like Barcelona. But when we do come to these more high-speed, flowing circuits, it just seems like it is in a better place with a smaller rear wing.
“It is obviously something that the engineers need to get on top of, or the aerodynamicists, to understand where we are maybe missing on the high-downforce stuff. It is encouraging for next weekend as well. Even if we had a bit more wing to choose from, I think we would probably still stay on this one for this track. It is working well.
“It can certainly be expected from us on these low-downforce circuits. Coming into Monza next week we can expect to be competitive again. That would be a strong assumption certainly from my side.
“When we go to some high-downforce tracks like a Barcelona, for now I would expect us to be a little bit more… I don’t want to say we will struggle more, but we have a bit more work to do on those layouts. I would say that it is a similar trend to last year. So something we are not completely on top of yet.”