Daniel Ricciardo’s difficult maiden season with Renault has reached a new low after a strange qualifying fiasco will see him start from P18 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Australian suffered his first Q1 elimination since the British Grand Prix in 2017, after a traffic mix-up with Racing Point’s Sergio Pérez hindered his final qualifying lap at the Hungaroring. He qualified only ahead of Pérez’s teammate Lance Stroll and Williams’ Robert Kubica.
Renault sent Ricciardo out for his first Q1 run with ten minutes left in the session. His first lap was good enough for P10, but he steadily slipped down the order as others posted quicker times. Then disaster struck.
Ricciardo found himself in a queue of cars at the final corner on his out-lap which included Pérez and Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. He overtook the latter before the right-hander and then tried to sweep around the outside of Pérez, who blocked his run and pushed Ricciardo wide, not allowing him to accelerate down the start/finish straight.
The 30-year-old Australian is set to start from the second-last row of the grid and finished two-tenths of a second slower than Williams driver George Russell, who gave the Grove squad its best qualifying result of the season.
A disappointed Ricciardo said: “It’s clearly the most upset I’ve been in a while.
“The car actually felt OK. We got caught in traffic and when I got to the last corner there were other cars that were backed up,” he added.
“At that stage you have a choice of trying to pass and keep your tyre temperature up or hang back and start the lap with cold tyres.
“I tried to go and obviously Pérez and the others weren’t trying to have that. I felt that Pérez and I screwed each other.
“It was too late trying to make something happen and then the lap is compromised. It’s going to be a tough race but tomorrow is another day so let’s see what happens.”
Pérez had a different take on the events, labelling Ricciardo as “very disrespectful” for his on-track behaviour.
The Mexican driver was clearly irate on what he called a “difficult day”. It was just the second time he has been eliminated in Q1 this season, with the 29-year-old driver usually making it into Q2 before being eliminated.
“We were stuck with traffic so everyone is trying to open a gap,” Pérez said.
“You see the car ahead and everyone’s just opening up and what Daniel tried was very disrespectful. He disrupted my lap, his lap and I ended up starting my lap too close to [Lando] Norris and I think Daniel was also very close to me so that was a very bad day for us.
“We were queuing and into the final lap he tried to overtake and therefore I had to push and otherwise you start too close to him and that meant I was too close to Norris.
“A perfect Q1 would have meant Q2 but it didn’t happen today, it’s been a bit of a struggle [thi weekend].”
In a tough day for Renault, Nico Hülkenberg secured twelfth to progress to Q2 but ended up with a P11 result.
Ricciardo’s former Red Bull Racing teammate Max Verstappen continued his stellar season run, claiming his first pole position ahead of Mercedes’ Valterri Bottas and championship leader Lewis Hamilton starts from the second row in third. Scuderia Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc rounds out the top four.
Images via Racing Point and Renault Sport F1 Team