Mercedes and Ferrari’s tussle for wins in F1 has left Verstappen and Ricciardo in the cold, an uncomfortable sensation for drivers who each won a race last year and were podium regulars. And the gap to the top two teams is getting bigger.
Daniel Ricciardo (5th): “I don’t think the practice session timings were completely representative of our pace and I felt like we were always a bit better than the timing screen showed but we hadn’t quite put it all together. In Q1 and Q2 we were trying to circulate and build temperature in the tyres but in Q3 we went for it and decided just to do one push lap which seemed to work so I’m glad we chose to do that. I’m pretty happy, I think fifth was all we could ask for today and that’s obvious looking at the gap to the front.Fifth is our best qualifying result here in Russia and we have to take the positives for now so I’m pleased to have achieved that for the team.
“I think Ferrari and Mercedes will be battling for the win tomorrow but we will definitely have a good fight for the top five. Compared to the Williams I think we have more rear downforce and could be better on the tyres but they have the straight-line speed and if you compare us to Ferrari and Mercedes they still have a bit of everything on us. For everyone watching at home I hope we can all have a good race and it’s definitely good for the sport now that Mercedes is being challenged.”
Max Verstappen (7th): “A frustrating day all things considered, we knew this would be one of our toughest tracks of the season but I had hoped qualifying would go better than that. Q1 was not too bad for us but in Q2 I had a really bad feeling with the rear tyres and I suddenly lost grip, especially going into the last sector. Sector 1 and 2 went well on most of my laps but the time just fell away in sector 3 as I just didn’t have the heat in the tyres.
“P5 was our target and that looked possible based on my first sector splits but the time I lost in the final sector cost me that goal. In Bahrain our car had a good setup and worked with the tyres but here the long straights make it very hard to go quick and compete at the front. Tomorrow should be a one stop race and we will of course try to push and go forward but I just think the top four are too quick here. The target will remain P5 in the race tomorrow which would be a good result for us here.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal: “Ultimately Daniel got everything possible out of the car today. P5 was the maximum achievable and a clean controlled lap in Q3 delivered that. Max had looked the quicker of the two in the previous sessions of qualifying but unfortunately he got out of shape on his last run and dropped a place to Massa, so we line up in fifth and seventh for tomorrow’s grand prix. Fifth happens to be our best ever qualifying at this track but obviously it leaves us with a lot to do tomorrow.”