He was the talk of the town on Saturday at Albert Park as home-favourite Daniel Ricciardo almost pulled off one of the biggest shocks in F1 history.
Sadly a dream pole on his debut for Red Bull did not happen but the always smiling Australian couldn’t hide his delight claiming a front row grid slot for Sunday’s race.
“It was exciting out there – the weather definitely added to the mix and the whole session went well,” he said after claiming his best grid slot in his F1 career.
Though it is likely the Red Bull may have not been quite so competitive in the dry, the 24-year-old admitted getting it done in the wet was far from easy.
“Q1 looked like it was going okay for us and then, when the rain fell, it’s the first time we’ve driven these cars on the limit in wet conditions,” he explained.
“It was tricky, but at the same time a lot of fun and it was nice to always be up there.
“The engineer was always on the radio saying the pace was good and that we were P1, P2 P3 and in the battle for the pole position.
Certainly it was more than what he himself expected after the difficulties Red Bull have had with the Renault power unit and cooling the RB10 in testing.
“I’m happy for us to have a front row start – it wasn’t looking like this a few weeks ago, so I’m pretty pleased right now,” he added.
If Ricciardo was a ray of sunshine in the late afternoon gloom then his team-mate Sebastian Vettel had a face of thunder.
The German had a difficult day which wasn’t improved by only achieving 13th on the grid for tomorrow’s race.
For the world champion his aim for tomorrow is to simply make the chequered flag and hope those ahead have issues.
“I think we have made a big step forward with the car, but of course I’m not happy that we didn’t make it to Q3,” he said.
“I think the car is quick, but we struggled this afternoon with drivability which, in these conditions, made it even worse.”
The four-time champion was complementary of his team-mate who seemed to have the edge throughout the qualifying session. According to team boss Christian Horner this was due to a software issue with Vettel’s engine.
“It was unlucky for Seb,” he said, “his engine software meant he was down on power with extremely poor drivability and we need to understand that.”
What Red Bull, particularly with Ricciardo, can achieve on the race in Sunday is not really clear. The car has shown promise so far this weekend but as Vettel’s issue showed – the problems are not completely solved.
Finishing the race remains the number one aim for the team and if issues strike those around them then any result is still possible for a team most had written off in the build-up.
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