Daniel Ricciardo has been brought back down to earth after a brutal day of chaos in qualifying for the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix. The AlphaTauri driver and his teammate Yuki Tsunoda were both eliminated from the first round of qualifying on a day where wild weather caused havoc for several drivers and forced a premature end to the day's sessions.
Max Verstappen needed just one lap to secure pole position for Monday morning's (AEDT) race, posting the fastest time in Q3, before officials called an end to proceedings due to a massive storm. There was no such luck for McLaren's Oscar Piastri, with the Aussie driver having to settle for 10th place after spinning his car off at the final corner of the Interlagos circuit.
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Ricciardo was involved in his own drama in the first session of qualifying when he misjudged the first corner in conditions described by Verstappen as "insane". It was an unfortunate mishap for Ricciardo, amid growing speculation the Aussie is shaping up to partner Verstappen at Red Bull again in 2024, by unseating Mexican driver Sergio Perez.
Ricciardo has been in resurgent form since making his comeback with AlphaTauri and grabbed his best result of the year when he finished seventh in last week's Mexican GP, having qualified fourth fastest. However, the Aussie undid some of that momentum in Sao Paulo, with Sky Sports' F1 analyst Karun Chandhok claiming the Aussie went from "hero to zero", following his impressive showing in Mexico.
“Daniel got it wrong right at the beginning of the lap heading into the esses and went in there way too deep and completely missed the first apex and that completely ruins his line for the second part because it means he’s on a tighter trajectory for that part there and therefore he’s just bleeding lap time," Chandhok said.
Damn, Ricciardo deserved so much more.. so sad after a great weekend.
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Daniel Ricciardo to start Brazilian GP from 17th
Ricciardo will start Monday morning's race from 17th on the grid, one place below his teammate Tsunoda. The AlphaTauri drivers missed out on Q2 by less than 0.1 seconds. Despite the wild conditions that ultimately saw the final session of qualifying red flagged, Ricciardo wasn't making any excuses for his disappointing showing.
“The first run was strong, I think we were definitely a lot faster than the overall time showed,” Ricciardo said afterwards. “That last lap I nearly had a spin turn 2, just came in a bit hot into Turn 1, probably didn’t get the tyres into the right spot for the start of the lap.
“So we’d already lost a chunk in the first sector and then little bits and pieces throughout the lap. Frustrating because we were definitely faster than that but just a few things didn’t quite work out.”
F1 stars speak out about 'insane' conditions
Triple world champion Verstappen saw off Ferrari's Charles Leclerc as the storm brought a premature end to qualifying. Verstappen finished three-tenths clear of Leclerc as he chases a record-extending 17th win of the season, with Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso third and fourth respectively for Aston Martin.
"We didn’t know when it would hit in qualifying, we thought it would hit. This is of course insane weather," Verstappen said about the storm that brought about the red flag. It had been carnage across the day of qualifying, with an extended break needed early to clear debris off the track — caused by extreme winds. Images later emerged a roof being blown off one of the grandstands around the track.
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Teams learned of the order to cancel the final session with a message that appeared on their screens confirming a “change in climatic conditions” had forced the FIA stewards to pull the plug. Leclerc said after the session he’d never seen anything like it.
“From Turn 4 onwards there was no rain. But the car was extremely difficult to drive, no grip," he said. “I was thinking about coming in at the end of the lap but I finished it and it was P2. So a really good surprise. A very weird one for everyone at the track.”
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