Daniel Ricciardo had an eventful qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix, finishing seventh quickest and having a heated debate with his engineer mid-lap.
Ricciardo initially felt as though the way the team had worked out the system of ‘towing’ was unfair – team-mate Max Verstappen got a tow on each of his Q3 runs and refused to swap positions and tow Ricciardo. Verstappen maintained that this was the way things worked at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, and having been the one to give Ricciardo the benefit of the tow last time out in Paul Ricard, felt as though it was his right to stay behind on the track.
Team boss Christian Horner later clarified that Verstappen was correct, but the incident appeared to be a breakdown of communication between all parties. Ricciardo has since calmed down and understands why he was the one giving the tow each time.
The Australian could not match Verstappen for pace regardless, finishing seventh to the Dutchman’s fifth. Ricciardo will start behind Romain Grosjean and Sebastian Vettel – who was pushed down the order with a penalty for impeding Carlos Sainz Jr. on a qualifying run. Verstappen will therefore start in fourth.
“That wasn’t my best Qualifying, that’s for sure,” he commented.
“In the heat of the moment I felt like I could have been treated more fairly, but I’ve had a few discussions since with Christian and my engineer and I can see the full picture now.
“For that last run, I thought I would get a chance to get a tow, but I guess by that point I didn’t want to push the air again and Max didn’t want to give me a tow. From his point of view we didn’t talk about it beforehand, so he thought, I’m staying where I am. The competitor in both of us is not wanting to give an inch.
“I’m not mad at Max for that but in the heat of the moment, I was frustrated. Your team-mate is the first guy you want to beat so everyone is out there for themselves and everyone knows that. We have a policy where we alternate who leaves the garage first race by race. Luck of the draw this week meant I was out of the garage first, but I was hoping I wouldn’t have to do it for every run.
“In Q3 the balance was actually pretty good and in the high speed we are at the limit of the grip, but we just don’t have a fast package on this track. There are no points for Qualifying so let’s see what we can do tomorrow in the race.”