Ricciardo: Qualifying definitely exceeded our expectations

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso. Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix Preparations, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Thursday 19 April 2012.

Daniel Ricciardo was all smiles after Bahrain qualifying

Apr.22 (F1 Media) Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo shattered expectations to qualify in sixth position, his best ever start place on the F1 grid, for the Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir.

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo scored his best ever grid position in qualifying for the Bahrain GP

The return of Red Bull Racing to the front of the F1 grid after a couple of races trailing the competition would usually be the big talking point in the paddock but on Saturday some of the limelight that shone on pole sitter Sebastian Vettel was shared by the junior team as Ricciardo powered through to Q3 and then claimed sixth in the final top-ten shootout.

Afterwards, the Australian driver claimed the result had been down to changes made overnight to refine the updates first seen on his car at the Chinese Grand Prix.

“The changes we made overnight looked like they were going to help, at least on paper, and they worked this morning [in practice] and we were quite competitive,” he said. “In qualy we knew we had a chance of Q3 if everything went well. We put it all together and the car was reacting quite well, it got better and better each run, I was feeling the rhythm and then it all came together in Q3.”

Despite his confidence in making it through to Q3, Ricciardo was still surprised to qualify within half a second of pole position. “That definitely exceeded our expectations,” he confirmed.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7

Daniel Ricciardo in the cockpit of the Toro Rosso STR7

“When we cracked the 1m33s bracket and did a 33.5 I thought that was pretty cool. When I saw the top guys doing around 32.7 I was thinking I’d love to be in the 32s – and when I crossed the line for a 32.9, that’s when I though ‘this has been a good day’. I don’t think we expected that performance. It came from car improvement and for myself it was definitely the best qualifying session I’ve driven this year.

The rate of improvement through the runs was matching the car performance – and that makes me really happy.” Toro Rosso had concerns on Friday regarding their long run pace but Ricciardo is optimistic that the improvements to the car that improved it’s one-lap performance will have a similar effect over a longer stint.

“I’m much more confident today,” he said. “Obviously the car’s proven to be better today [Saturday] on lower fuel – so you’d think it should be better with high fuel too – but we’ll find out won’t we?”

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