Daniel Ricciardo expressed his gratitude towards his Aston Martin Red Bull Racing mechanics for allowing him to compete in Qualifying.
The Australian suffered a turbo failure in the morning’s Free Practice 3 session putting his participation in jeopardy, but Red Bull managed to get his car together and working for him to qualify sixth on the grid, behind team-mate Max Verstappen.
“I’m happy to have got out in Qualifying and I want to thank the mechanics for doing such a great job,” said Ricciardo, who has been out-qualified by a team-mate at the Shanghai International Circuit for the first time in his career.
“I think they have broken their own record for an engine change several times and they did it again today.”
Despite the impressive reputation for rebuilds that the Red Bull mechanics have earned over the last few seasons, Ricciardo admitted that he did not expect to make it out in time to do a flying lap in the first part of Qualifying. The 28-year-old only just made the second part of the session on his sole fast lap, ending the first eighteen minutes in a lowly fourteenth.
“It got to 2pm and the guys were saying get ready, but we didn’t think it was going to happen,” he said.
“I didn’t expect to get out but I was ready to go and excited when I did. What happened this morning wasn’t the mechanics’ fault but they had all the pressure to put the new engine in the car in time and they did very well.”
Red Bull could not match the pace of Scuderia Ferrari or Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport, despite both Mercedes cars failing to improve on their first efforts in Qualifying 3. Ricciardo said that although he was a little disappointed with the starting position, he noted that the afternoon went better than first expected.
“In the end it’s relatively close, we’re at the tail end of the top six which isn’t ideal, but I think with all things considered it wasn’t a bad afternoon,” he added.
“I’m just thankful that the team were able to get me out there.”
Both Ricciardo and Verstappen opted to start on the ultra-soft compound whereas Mercedes and Ferrari will go for a longer first stint on the soft compound. With the softer tyres expected to provide a marginal gain off the line, but sacrificing durability around the high stress circuit, Ricciardo is hopeful that a different strategy can help score the team their first podium of the season.
“I think they all start on softs in front of us tomorrow and from what I understand myself and Max will start on ultra-softs, so strategy will definitely play a big part and hopefully it can help get us up on the podium.”