Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo was left dejected with his qualifying lap at the Mexico Grand Prix after the Australian struggled to find grip the entire session.

One might assume that labeling a qualifying session as “one of the worst of a career” results in an early Q1 exit, or falling well off the pace to the front-running teams. However, Ricciardo’s idea of a “horrendous” qualifying session is lining up fourth on the grid.

“To be four tenths off pole with what I thought was one of the worst laps of my qualifying career was pretty interesting,” Ricciardo said on Saturday.

“I thought the last run in Q3 was pretty horrendous, to be honest. I came out of turn six and I think I was four tenths slower than my previous lap, so I was thinking about aborting my lap because it was nowhere.

“Just out of Turn 1 the car started sliding and I couldn’t understand why, but then we found a lot of time in the last sector. It was a weird session. A fraction of the second was everywhere, so there was a chunk but at the same time it was like that for everywhere.

“I didn’t feel like I drove a worse lap, it just felt like a terrible lap in terms of the balance and from turn one it was messy so recovering the whole lap. Second row is not too bad considering.

Starting on the quicker super soft tyres, the Australian has a good chance of jumping the soft-starting Mercedes drivers on the front row of the grid, although he remains cautious about his chances staying ahead.

While the super soft will give a driver better traction off the start line, the life of the tyre is only expected to reach a maximum of 18 laps, with the softs a further four laps.

“If you do like a perfect start, it should give you one grid position. So if Mercedes do the perfect start and we do the perfect start, it should put me one spot closer, a few meters closer to them. Ideally, that just puts me in that position to really get a good slipstream, and once you do 200 meters, it is more the slipstream that takes over as opposed to what tyre you are on.

“So it is probably that first 100, 200 meters that makes a difference. And then it is finding a friend down the straight to help you.

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Josh Kruse

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