Daniel Ricciardo delivered an unexpected performance for Red Bull Racing. The Australian driver mastered the wet conditions at his home event to qualify second. Team mate Sebastian Vettel struggled with driveability on his engine setting and will start the Australian Grand Prix from 13th.
Daniel Ricciardo, 2nd: “It was exciting out there – the weather definitely added to the mix and the whole session went well. Q1 looked like it was going okay for us and then, when the rain fell, it’s the first time we’ve driven these cars on the limit in wet conditions. It was tricky, but at the same time a lot of fun and it was nice to always be up there. The engineer was always on the radio saying the pace was good and that we were P1, P2 P3 and in the battle for the pole position, so it was definitely a really nice first qualifying session with the team. I’m happy for us to have a front row start – it wasn’t looking like this a few weeks ago, so I’m pretty pleased right now.”
Sebastian Vettel, 13th: “I think we have made a big step forward with the car, but of course I’m not happy that we didn’t make it to Q3. I think the car is quick, but we struggled this afternoon with drivability which, in these conditions, made it even worse. The car seems good and Daniel did a very good job to be on the front row, so congratulations to him. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow and reliability will be the most important thing to make it to the flag, but I think there will be lots of opportunities for us.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal: “It was unbelievable for Dan today. He’s been so relaxed all weekend. He was on fire though all three qualifying sessions and all credit to him starting his home race and his debut race for us on the front row of the grid. It was unlucky for Seb. His engine software meant he was down on power with extremely poor drivability and we need to understand that, as it compromised his qualifying, but we’re really pleased for Dan. The car’s good – our weakness is on the straights and in the wet you can’t go so fast on the straights, so we’ve got to work on that. To start on the front row tomorrow is unexpected, it was a tremendous performance.”
Thierry Salvi, Renault Sport F1 team support leader: “After a very difficult winter we did not expect to be on the front row, so this is a great result for the entire team at Milton Keynes and Viry. Managing the Power Units, the state of charge and energy management in pressured and changing weather conditions is no mean feat, and everyone did a great job today. Unfortunately Sebastian was down on power, as we got a faulty sensor reading. This ultimately did not reflect the improved performance of the car, but we’ll do our best in the race tomorrow.”