MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403230199 // Usage for editorial use only //

Ricciardo from local hero to zero on home soil

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403230199 // Usage for editorial use only //

Daniel Ricciardo’s hopes of a happy return to Albert Park after missing last year’s Australian Grand Prix suffered a major blow as the VCARB driver failed to make it out of Q1 in qualifying on Saturday.

The Western Australian’s fastest lap of Q1 was deleted, by FIA F1 Stewards, for exceeding track limits at Turn 5 and he will start 18th of 19 cars on the grid in Sunday’s race. The lap, set too late in the session to post another, would have put him safely through to Q2.

It was another crushing moment for Ricciardo at his home grand prix and comes 10 years after he finished runner-up for Red Bull behind Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg only to be disqualified for a fuel breach.

“I was certainly all over it trying to keep it on track but obviously trying to find the time that we’ve been struggling to find all weekend,” said Ricciardo, who was a frustrated reserve driver for Red Bull at Albert Park last year.

“And I felt like the lap was all I had. So that was salt in the wounds,” added, Ricciardo has now been out-qualified in all three races this season by less experienced teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

Whoever wins the season-long duel between the pair could be in the running for a coveted racing seat at Red Bull in 2025, with Sergio Perez out of contract next year.

In the sister VCARB, Tsunoda, who qualified P8, on Saturday behind Red Bull’s pole-sitter Max Verstappen, definitely has his nose in front in this teammate duel.

Tsunoda: I’m very happy with the performance of the team

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia Visa Cash App RB during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403230181 // Usage for editorial use only //

The Japanese driver reported afterwards: “I’m very happy with the performance of the team and myself. Definitely a big credit to them for giving me a very consistent car throughout the weekend. It’s been easier to adapt and build confidence in every session.

“I definitely feel like I had a clean lap, was able to squeeze a few milliseconds from each corner, and maximised the performance. I didn’t expect P8, and especially Q3 after seeing Williams and other teams find more time in Q1.

“I’m very happy; it’s the highest qualifying position this season and reflects the hard work of the team. Daniel was also looking quick so it’s a bit of a shame what happened, but let’s see how it goes tomorrow. It won’t be easy, but we aim to have a clean race, do as much as we can, and score points!” declared Tsunoda.

With Ricciardo underperforming for some time now, Australian fans pin their hopes on McLaren’s Oscar Piastri – who replaced his beleaguered fellow countryman at McLaren – to end the long wait for an Australian on the podium in Melbourne.

Piastri qualified P6, two places behind teammate Lando Norris, and rued a “messy”, mistake-laden Q3. The Melbourne local hero said he hoped the soft tyre setup at Albert Park might give them a chance of edging their rivals with a good strategy but it would be tough to get past the Red Bulls and Ferraris in front of him on the grid.

“Mixed feelings. I feel like there was maybe a little bit more on the table today which is a bit of a shame,” was Piastri’s brief Qualifying summary. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Additional Quotes by Agnes Carlier)