A set-up gamble from the Infiniti Red Bull Racing team for the expected rain on Sunday meant that Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel could only qualify sixth and ninth respectively at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo admitted that he thought the team would be higher up the grid than sixth at Suzuka, but on the back of his free practice two crash on Friday that cost him a good chunk of time on track, he was happy to qualify where he did.
“I’m happy with how we bounced back in qualifying after my mistake yesterday,” confessed Ricciardo. “I thought we would be better here, but I think sixth is realistically what we could do today.
“If it rains tomorrow then we should be looking a bit better”
Team-mate Vettel, who earlier in the day confirmed that he would be leaving the team at the end of 2014, could only finish ninth, and bemoaned the lack of running in the morning practice session due to an issue on his car.
“I wasn’t entirely happy with that qualifying,” said Vettel. “We lacked some running his morning but I wasn’t able to go with the track and was on the back foot. I struggled a bit on corners that I normally love, so it’s not easy.
“But tomorrow we still have a chance if it rains; if it doesn’t then it’s tougher from where we start but we will see.”
Team Principal Christian Horner is hopeful that the teams’ gamble to set their cars up for the wet will pay dividends on Sunday. He is hoping the rain arrives so the team can make progress through the field.
“On face value, sixth and ninth aren’t exactly stellar grid positions but, with the decision on set-up that we made for tomorrow’s race due to the inevitability of rain at some point, hopefully that will pay dividends tomorrow,” insisted Horner. “We will see in 24 hours. I think Daniel extracted everything he could out to the car today and it was good to have both drivers getting through to Q3.”