Daniel Ricciardo produced his best qualifying performance of the season so far despite tricky rain-swept conditions on Saturday at Spa-Francorchamps, sealing a second row grid position for McLaren in the Belgian Grand Prix.
Fourth is the Australian driver’s best starting grid position since he moved to McLaren from Renault at the start of the season, and a perfect way to make his 200th Formula 1 race start.
It’s all very good news for Ricciardo, whose confidence has taken a battering with a tough transition over the course of the first 11 races of the year.
“Second row, I’m going to take it of course!” he beamed. “With these crazy weather conditions and everything I’ll take it with a smile.
“It took a few laps to get that confidence,” Ricciardo told the media after the end of the session. “These conditions certainly reward some feel and some finesse but ultimately confidence as well.
“Q1 I was still a bit off but I was making improvements, and then Q2 still a bit off but I made a really good step, and then I think Q3 was another good step.
“I don’t want to say that it’s perfect yet of course,” he added. “But I’m really happy with the progress and obviously I just expect Q1 to be closer and then I can be in the mix early on.”
As for tomorrow’s race, Ricciardo acknowledged that it was a whole different challenge even if the conditions turn out to be much the same as they were on Saturday.
“The only thing with racing in the wet is visibility,” he explained. “In qualifying you can create space to a point where the spray is not too bad, but in a race you’re there.
“Even in P4 you’re going to have pretty much no visibility,” he accepted. “That’s the only thing that makes racing in the wet less fun, because you literally don’t see.
“But for competitiveness-wise, I don’t know,” he shrugged. “We’ve got a decent car in the dry, so if the sun’s shining I’m certainly not against that. We’ll see.
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“Whatever I think or hope for, it ain’t going to change what will actually happen! So I think right now all I want is a warm shower, not a cold one, and we’ll go from there.”
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Ricciardo’s team mate Lando Norris had earlier topped the times in both Q1 and Q2 but then aqua-planed off at Eau Rouge and triggered a red flag in Q3.
Although he was able to extricated himself from the shattered car, Norris was sent to the local hospital for precautionary checks.
He had since been cleared to compete in Sunday’s race by the trackside doctor and FIA medical delegate.
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