Daniel Ricciardo completed his debut qualifying with the McLaren F1 Team, ending the final session of qualifying in sixth place – ahead of of team-mate Lando Norris who was one place back in seventh. The Australian will be starting tomorrow’s race on the Soft tyre for the season-opening Grand Prix after setting his fastest lap in Qualifying 2 on the red-walled tyre.
Ricciardo feels relieved to get the first qualifying session of the year out of the way and is content with the result. After testing, the Australian feels that the car is better over longer runs on higher fuel which should put him in a better place for the race tomorrow. Ricciardo feels that he needs to improve his qualifying performances but today marks a step-up in where he will start on a Sunday.
“It’s a pleasant relief to get the first quali out of the way and get a decent result. I think, after the test, I was fairly comfortable in the car but probably more so on long runs. I still felt that, if anything, my Saturdays were going to need improving – and I think they still do – but I certainly made a nice step from a couple of weeks ago and I’m happy.”
Ricciardo feels that sixth is a good place to start on race-day, the Australian feeling really pleased with how himself and the team approached the session even if the car was slightly off the pace compared to their competitors.
“We’ve got a good platform to build on now, I’m really happy with how we approached it as a team, not putting too much pressure on me. We were a bit off the pace yesterday, but they could see I was just trying to figure it out.”
The Australian driver doesn’t want to get too far ahead of himself after a good showing by the team in what was only the first qualifying of the year, but saying this he still predicts that the Bahrain Grand Prix will be a successful one for McLaren.
“I don’t want to do somersaults or backflips just yet, but it’s certainly a nice start for the campaign and I think we’ll do alright tomorrow. There’s a mix of cars around us, so I’m looking forward to that, and with Lando alongside hopefully we can get some big points for the team and start the year right.”