The Infiniti Red Bull Racing drivers took different decisions at the end of the third part of qualifying at Silverstone, with Sebastian Vettel gambling perfectly on track conditions improving to take second on the grid, but Daniel Ricciardo did not take to the track again and finished eighth.
After initially aborting his first lap in qualifying, Vettel looked set to start down in tenth, but after going out late in the session, he finished up taking a front row grid slot alongside Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes after finding a lot of time in the drying final sector. The German was happy to get up to second and admitted that he took risks to get there.
“It was very tight in Q1 and Q2, we were quite late going out due to the weather and then in Q3 we were quite early for the final run, but it didn’t matter as in the end the time was okay,” said Vettel. “It’s hard to know how much you can push when the conditions are like that as you’re driving into the unknown. The warm up lap shows you that it’s damp and you know it will improve, but by how much is obviously determined by how much risk you take. It seems in the end I took the right amount today, so I’m happy.”
Team-mate Ricciardo remained in the pits at the end of the session believing the circuit was too wet for drivers to improve, but was amazed to fall from fourth on the grid to eighth when drivers found time in the final sector.
“I didn’t expect it to go quicker at the end of the session there, as the rain kept coming,” said Ricciardo. “We really thought the track wouldn’t get quicker, Vettel only went out as he didn’t have a time at that point. We have to learn from it I guess – I’m gobsmacked how much faster the circuit got; it must dry a lot quicker here than I thought. We’ll move forwards from there tomorrow.”
Team Principal Christian Horner apologised to Ricciardo for the misjudgement in the track conditions, but was happy with Vettel’s performance to take second. Horner is hopeful the team can have a strong race on Sunday after showing well in long runs during the free practice sessions.
“A very tricky qualifying today in all three sessions and the weather played a part in all three sectors,” said Horner. “The guys did well to navigate their way through into Q3 and Sebastian did a tremendous job at the end of the session to secure our sixth front row start at Silverstone. Unfortunately we misjudged the conditions at the end of Q3, so apologies to Daniel, he didn’t go again as he had already set a time. With both cars well up the field on a mixed up grid for tomorrow, hopefully we can have a strong race from there.”