Daniel Ricciardo was at a loss to explain his massive under-performance in qualifying for this weekend’s Portuguese GP which has left him a “grim” P16 on Sunday’s grid.
After being outpaced by his McLaren teammate Lando Norris in Bahrain and at Imola, Ricciardo had focused on honing his driving style and adapting himself better to his MCL35M.
And the Aussie genuinely felt that he had unlocked some performance this weekend in Portugal. But while Norris sailed into the top-ten shootout with ease and qualified 7th, Ricciardo was left stranded down the order, with no clear explanation for the significant shortfall.
“I don’t really know at the moment, it happened so quickly,” he said after his premature exit from the session, his first Q1 miss since the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix.
“I guess Q1 you get a few laps and certainly the laps were tricky, especially going toward the last sector it was really hard to hang on.
“But why we struggled, or why it was hard to put a lap together is not so clear at the moment.
“There’s something for sure, some tenths left on the table, but it was tricky – 16th is grim. Certainly not a result I feel good about at all.”
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Ricciardo says that part of his predicament is shedding some old driving habits that appear to be weighing on his performance with his new team.
“It’s certainly still trying to get out of an old style [of driving],” he admitted. “I’m still quite conscious of how I approach every corner, if you know what I mean.
“I felt like yesterday I made a good step towards that. I certainly felt comfortable yesterday, or more comfortable than a couple of weeks ago. That’s why to be standing here now is pretty dark.”
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