Australian Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo was on top of the world after putting his Renault fifth on the grid in qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Imola circuit in Italy.
Ricciardo, aided by the presence of former world champion Fernando Alonso in the Renault garage, will be seeking a second podium for the French manufacturer after a disappointing outing at the Portuguese GP last weekend.
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It is the first time F1 has raced at Imola since 2006, and marks 26 years since the death of motorsport legend Ayrton Senna at the Italian track.
Ricciardo once again out-qualified teammate Esteban Ocon, just behind Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly.
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas edged out teammate and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton for pole, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in third.
The Aussie star was elated after the qualifying session, enthusiastically telling Sky Sports he believed it was his best effort of the season.
“I don’t think I’ve done one as good as that yet. I’ll take my lap as the best lap I have done so far this year,” he said.
“I’m stoked. It was fun. This track is awesome and I’d be saying that even if qualifying didn’t go well.
“I was on the limit right at the end there. That was the most fun I have had in quali for a few races.”
Daniel Ricciardo optimistic ahead of F1’s Imola return
Alonso, a future foe, was there to observe as part of a programme to get him back up to speed before a comeback as Ricciardo's replacement following two years out.
The 39-year-old won the San Marino Grand Prix at the racetrack in 2005 on his way to his first Formula One championship with Renault.
Sunday's race will be the first grand prix at Imola since 2006 and only Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen, of the current grid, raced there in F1 before.
"It's been good. He's going to be a competitor next year but I obviously look forward to that," said Ricciardo, of Alonso's involvement.
"He's going to be working with my team, my engineering crew so he's been involved in our debriefs and pre-weekend meetings.
"It was actually quite helpful to have him listen in yesterday and hear what set-up we were thinking, because he's driven here before... it's unknown for us, so having another kind of opinion with him was quite good."
Alonso tested Renault's current car in Barcelona this month and has visited the team's factories in Britain and France recently.
He will also carry out a two-day test in a 2018 car in Bahrain on November 4-5.
Renault are fifth in the championship but only six points behind third-placed Racing Point.
Ricciardo, a winner with Red Bull before joining Renault, took his first podium with the French team at the October 11 Eifel Grand Prix when he finished third.
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