On the team’s home track, the Australian driver was fifth fastest in the final segment, with his best time being seven tenths slower than Felipe Massa’s pole lap.
Sebastian Vettel, in the second RB10, only managed 13th and was eliminated in Q2. He will start today’s race in 12th place and said he simply wasn’t quick enough to make the top 10 shoot-out.
Reflecting on Saturday’s qualifying session, Ricciardo said he didn’t expect to be battling so hard for a top five position. “Yeah, we are a bit surprised,” he said.
“We didn’t expect to be fighting that hard to try and get the top five and to try and make it through to Q3. I am not really sure why.
“Credit to the other teams, they have obviously found some pace. In the second and third sector, with a few fast corners, we thought we would have a bit of an edge but they seem to be pretty much on to us, so I think they have found a little bit and we are still trying to find that little bit extra to stay in front but they seem to have caught up this weekend.”
Ricciardo is hopeful that his race pace will be stronger. “I think we are going to be better off in the race,” he explained. “We weren’t able to get the tyres on as quick as some other teams, we chose to do two warm-up laps, just to try and get the tyres ready.
“We didn’t think on the first lap, they were at their optimum. So we chose to do two. In terms of long runs and with a bit more track temperature tomorrow [Sunday], it should come towards us. But today [Saturday] I think that was one place where the top guys were able to extract a bit more from the tyres.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic