Daniel Ricciardo was left frustrated after qualifying seventh-fastest for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix, but was confident that he will have the pace to leapfrog the Williams pairing of Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas during the 56-lap race.
The Australian finished as the fastest qualifier among the four Renault-powered runners; the Red Bull Racing driver was the engine brand’s only representative in Q3 and felt that he put everything on the table during Saturday’s grid-deciding sessions.
“I was happy with the lap,” Ricciardo said after qualifying. “It was a good lap and there wasn’t anything more I felt I could have done.
“We obviously would have hoped for a top five, but I think Williams, as well, always come on strong on Saturdays, so there’s not much more we could have done. That’s what it is on one-lap pace, but our race pace should look better – at least compared to the Williams. I think we can challenge them tomorrow.”
More importantly, the three-time Grand Prix winner was confident that he would not experience a repeat of the braking issues that hampered his performances in the opening two races of the season, having reverted to a braking set-up similar to what he ran last year.
“To be honest, in feeling and performance, I think it’s pretty similar,” he explained. “Consistency is what we were after, and I think we’ve got that back now. We obviously tried a few different materials for the first couple of races, but there was too much variation as the race went on. Malaysia was pretty extreme but, even in Melbourne, on one lap they seemed pretty good but then they were not holding up as well. What I think we’ve got now is at least more consistent.”
Teammate Daniil Kvyat endured a tough qualifying session and will start from twelfth after suffering a loss of power in his RB11.
“I was losing some power today and the team is investigating the reason for this. I am disappointed but we have to keep our heads up,” the Russian said. “We are working hard to keep moving forward, at this track we have a straight-line speed disadvantage and we are trying to find a solution for that.”
Image via Infiniti Red Bull Racing