Mar.17 (F1 Media) Daniel Ricciardo gave his home crowd – and Scuderia Toro Rosso – something to cheer about with a qualifying run in Albert Park that took him into the Q3 grid shootout for the Australian Grand Prix.
Last season the Red Bull Juniors graduate spent 11 races rooted to the foot of the grid while on loan to HRT but now back with the Austrian company and Toro Rosso, Ricciardo finds himself in possession of a potent looking STR7 and he made the most of its pace to power through to 10th on the grid for his first home race. The Perth driver reckoned there’s still more to come from the car, however.
“I think there was still more,” he smiled. “I think with what we had it was a good job to get into Q3 but as for balance and the little details – I think we could have had that better and been maybe a couple more spots up the grid, but generally, with what we had out there, I thought top ten was solid.”
Ricciardo chose to sit out the final top-10 shoot-out in order to save a set of tyres for tomorrow’s race but said Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg might have been in reach had he chosen to take to the track. “I think Force India was in reach and potentially the Williams [of Pastor Maldonado, eighth] as well. The others would have been more of a stretch, so one place and maybe two were within reach. But we always wanted to save one set of tyres for the race. One run on the new option in Q2 was quick enough for tenth and it got me into Q3 and we decided to stop there. I would have loved to have gone out and fought for a few more positions, but hopefully it pays off tomorrow.”
The 2009 British F3 champion was pushed hard by team-mate jean-Eric Vergne, and in the end outpaced the French rookie by just a tenth of a second and Vergne will line up 11th for tomorrow’s season-opener. Ricciardo admitted that the competition between the two is intense.
“It’s fun. And it’s tough,” he said. “That’s exactly what you need in team-mates, you need two very competitive drivers. I saw he was quicker than me for a fair part of qualifying and I knew I had to find something else to make sure I was getting in front. I found that at the end but it’s good that I’m making sure I really squeeze all that I can out of myself, otherwise we’re never really going to know the full potential of the car. I think we’ll keep pushing each other.”