Daniel Ricciardo has qualified a lowly 16th for the Portugese Grand Prix on Sunday evening, admitting it was a 'big, big disappointment'.
The Aussie star, who has enjoyed solid, if not spectacular results in his first two outings for new team McLaren, said he was 'in shock' at just how poorly the session had gone.
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Ricciardo didn't even get out of Q3, out-qualified by Alfa Romeo's Kimi Raikkonen and Williams' George Russell, who scored 11th on the grid - his best showing for Williams.
However it was Ricciardo's failure to launch that was the big story at Portimao.
Teammate Lando Norris put himself 7th on the grid, with Ricciardo attributing his struggles to the ongoing process of learning the subtleties of his new machinery.
“Big, big disappointment. I’m still in a little bit of shock actually, just how the session went," he said.
"To be out in Q1, it’s really like your worst nightmare as a driver.”
“The medium (tyre) at the beginning of the run was OK, but we just didn’t really get a clean lap. And then the soft (tyre), it was just messy, messy.
“Already into Turn 1, I didn’t feel I was helped with some traffic. And then the end of the lap I was just trying to hang on to the rear of the car, I just didn’t really get going from really the start of the lap.
“Then I was trying to probably play catch-up at the end, which just meant a lot of mistakes. Yeah, not a good one.”
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Having openly admitted that, like when he joined Renault from Red Bull for the 2019 season, he's having to tweak his driving style to suit the McLaren, Ricciardo said it was disheartening to have a result this poor in qualifying.
Pressure could begin to mount on the fan favourite Australian star, with Norris holding the upper hand in their teammate battle.
“Why we struggled or why it was difficult to put a lap together it’s not so clear at the moment,” Ricciardo said.
“I think there’s a few things for sure and there’s some tenths left on the table.
“But it was tricky. So yeah, 16th is grim. It’s not a result I feel good about at all.
“I’m still trying to get out of, let’s say, a little bit of an old style. So I’m still quite conscious about how I approach every corner
“I felt like yesterday (in practice) I’d made a good step towards that, and I certainly felt comfortable yesterday or more comfortable than a couple weeks ago. So that’s why to be standing here now, it’s pretty dark.”
Mercedes' Vatteri Bottas took pole, with teammate Lewis Hamilton just seven hundredths of a second behind.
Red Bull's Max Verstappen, a point behind championship leader Hamilton after two races, will start third on the soft tyres after having his first flying lap of one minute 18.209 deleted for running too wide.
But for that mistake on a gusty afternoon at a rollercoaster of a circuit, the Dutch youngster's time would have been the fastest. Bottas took pole in 1:18.348.
Bottas celebrated the 17th pole position of his career, lifting him level with Britain's triple champion Jackie Stewart in the all-time list, and his first since Bahrain's Sakhir Grand Prix last December.
The Finn will also be the third different driver to start on pole in three races and nobody has so far won from the top slot in 2021.
"Feels like it's been a while. It (qualifying) has been a weak point for me in the first two races. The team have been working hard all weekend and we have a good position for tomorrow," said Bottas.
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