Aussie F1 star Daniel Ricciardo has equalled his best qualifying result for Renault with a tremendous fourth in qualifying.
It‘s his best ever performance in qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix’s Spa-Francorchamps course and equals his 2019 Canadian Grand Prix performance.
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With Ricciardo in fourth and Esteban Ocon qualifying sixth, Renault also posted on Twitter that it was “our best qualifying result since we returned as a works team”.
After Q1, Ricciardo, who had the fastest time until the Mercedes‘ went past with the Renault being pushed back to seventh, before another huge lap in Q2 before a “brake by wire” problem threatened to derail his qualifying.
Thankfully there were no issues in Q3 with Ricciardo putting in a belter of a lap, going third fastest to start the session behind the two Mercedes‘ before Max Verstappen pushed him back to fourth on the final lap of the session.
But Ricciardo will line up on the second row of the grid alongside former Red Bull teammate Verstappen.
Sky Sports‘ Martin Brundle was impressed by the Aussies performance.
“That‘s the kind of performance he’s been threatening since Friday morning first practice,” he said. ”He’s really been on good form.”
Ricciardo even pulled out of his final lap but the field was breathing down his neck as well with the rest of the top 10 behind him within 0.6 of a second of his time.
The Aussie was thrilled with the result with his beaming smile still visible from behind his face mask.
“I‘m really happy with quali, I’ve been really happy all weekend,” Ricciardo said. ”We showed really good speed yesterday and last year it seemed these were our strong tracks, the lower downforce – Spa, Monza – and it seems like we’ve replicated it again this year. So pretty happy, it’s pretty fun around here when you get a lap hooked up.”
Ricciardo said he was hoping for a dry race, although there‘s a 60 per cent chance of rain. And if it stays dry, he believes he has a good chance to give the top three a run for their money.
“I think the start of the race we have a real opportunity and I think I could defend for a while if I had to so that‘s the plan,” he said. ”Try and go a few better on the start and elbows out.”
Ask about the tattoo for Cyril Abiteboul if he gets a podium, Ricciardo said he didn’t want to get ahead of himself but would likely go something spontaneous, although he said “a honey badger on the backside” – Simon Lazenby’s suggestion – was ”a good one”.
Ricciardo had already put in a great effort earlier this weekend having breezed to second in FP2 on Friday, ahead of Hamilton and behind Verstappen.
The brake by wire issue was the second issue of the weekend after a hydraulic issue stopped the Aussie on Friday.
Hamilton was once again in a league of his own, setting the track record on his way to another pole position.
But speaking on the team radio after the race, he dedicated his performance to actor Chadwick Boseman, the Black Panther actor who died of colon cancer aged 43 earlier today.
“That one was for Chadwick Boseman – rest in peace,” Hamilton said over team radio.
Speaking after claiming pole, Hamilton admitted Boseman‘s death was tough to hear.
“Today‘s a really important pole for me because I woke up to the saddest news of Chadwick passing away and it’s been such a heavy year for all of us,” he said.
“That news really just broke me. It was really not easy to get back in focus coming in today with that hanging in my heart but I was like I‘ve got to go out there and drive to perfection because what he’s done for our people, what he’s done for superheroes shows all these young kids that it’s possible. He was such a shining light. Wakanda forever.”
But while Renault has produced a brilliant qualifying result above its place on the constructors championship ladder, the rapid decline of Ferrari has continued with both Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel lining up on the seventh row of the grid after being eliminated in Q2 in 13th and 14th place respectively.
After finishing the final practice session with Leclerc in 17th and Vettel in 20th, there was a belief that the Ferrari‘s wouldn’t even make it out of the first qualifying session but the pair only just scraped through.
After the session, Leclerc said on team radio “There‘s not much more I can do” before elaborating further in an interview after.
“It‘s difficult to find an explanation. We need to find the issue,” he said.
“It‘s very difficult in tough times like this but us drivers will try to make the best race possible but don’t expect any miracles.”
Sebastian Vettel added: “It‘s the true picture – it’s what the car can do. We did a little bit better than yesterday but it’s not a surprise today.”
BELGIAN GRAND PRIX STARTING GRID
Row 1 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
Row 2 – Max Verstappen (Red Bull) – Daniel Ricciardo (Renault)
Row 3 – Alexander Albon (Red Bull) – Esteban Ocon (Renault)
Row 4 – Carlos Sainz (McLaren) – Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
Row 5 – Lance Stroll (Racing Point) – Lando Norris (McLaren)
Row 6 – Daniil Kvyat (AlphaTauri) – Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri)
Row 7 – Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
Row 8 – George Russell (Williams) – Kimi Raikkonen (AlfaRomeo)
Row 9 – Romain Grosjean (Haas) – Antonio Giovinazzi (AlfaRomeo)
Row 10 – Nicholas Latifi (Williams) – Kevin Magnussen (Haas)