Daniel Ricciardo says his shock Q1 exit at the Portuguese Grand Prix feels “pretty dark” after he had been encouraged by his Friday performance.
The Australian struggled compared to McLaren teammate Lando Norris in the first two rounds of the season but still picked up solid points, and then produced strong pace in Friday practice at Portimao. Attributing that improvement to a focus on adapting his driving style to the McLaren car, Ricciardo then had a poor qualifying that saw him eliminated in 16th place while Norris progressed to Q3.
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“I don’t really know at the moment,” Ricciardo said. “It happened so quickly. Because in Q1 you get a few laps, and certainly the laps were tricky, especially the last sector was really hard to hang on. But why we struggled, why it was difficult to put a lap together, it is not so clear at the moment. There are a few things, for sure. There were some tenths left on the table, but it was tricky. 16th is grim. It is certainly not a result I feel good about that all.
“I am certainly still trying to get out of let’s say a little bit of an old style, so I’m still quite conscious about how I approach every corner, if you know what I mean. It felt like yesterday I made a good step towards that. I certainly felt comfortable yesterday, or more comfortable than a couple weeks ago, so that is why to be standing here now is pretty dark.”
Ricciardo dismissed the difficult conditions as being a particular explanation for his struggles, as he felt the wind and low grip seen in qualifying was similar to Friday.
“We had it yesterday; I had pretty good confidence yesterday. So nothing really surprising today — everything was expected and we just did not get the lap in Q1 when we needed it. Every lap had some issue. Very hungry and very angry.
“Tomorrow, I do not want to guarantee but I’m convinced that it is going to be better. A lot of work ahead now, to be starting where I am, and just try and put it behind me. It is a session I do not want to think about too much, and just try and focus on the race now. A tough one, a really tough one to deal with.”