The Infiniti Red Bull Racing outfit openly admitted to not expecting to be near the front during qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps, with their Renault power unit not being as strong in a straight line as the Mercedes power unit. However, the rain at the circuit proved once again to be a leveller, and Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were able to claim grid slots in the top five for the race.
After a terrible weekend up to qualifying, including missing the whole of Friday’s second free practice session due to an engine issue, Vettel proved once again his world championship pedigree by taking an excellent third place on the grid. The German admits that the weather kind of puts him out of place in the grid, but he hopes to have strong race pace on Sunday.
“Yesterday was a different story to today,” said Vettel. “Today we did a lot more laps and I think the rain helped us, in dry conditions we couldn’t have qualified so high up.
“So, it was a good day for us and a good result and we should be a little bit more competitive compared to Mercedes in the race tomorrow, so let’s see.”
Ricciardo was out-qualified by his team-mate for only the fifth time in 2014, and made a mistake at Blanchimont on his final quick lap that he feels cost him a little bit of time, and possibly the chance to get ahead of Vettel once more.
”I had a moment on Blanchimont; that corner is tricky in the wet,” said Ricciardo. “It’s never full, it’s always a lift or a dab of the brakes and knowing that the chequered flag was just there at the end of the session, then I just pushed it a bit too much. I guess in hindsight it cost a bit of time, but you never get the perfect lap in these conditions.
“Spa is unique, as the track is so long and some parts of the circuits are drier than others, so nearly every lap you’re driving blind. It’s great to drive here though.”
Team Principal Christian Horner praised both Vettel and Ricciardo for their qualifying efforts in tricky conditions, and hopes the team can be more competitive in the race than in qualifying.
“A great recovery by Seb after a difficult Friday and very little mileage to get third on the gird and with Daniel, despite running wide on his final flying lap, he managed to qualify fifth in a very low down force configuration in very tricky conditions,” said Horner. “So, a tremendous job by both drivers and good grid positions for tomorrow’s race. Hopefully we’ll have a more competitive race car than qualifying car.”