Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo will start his final race for the Milton Keynes based outfit from fifth place having out qualified his team mate Max Verstappen.
The Australian who moves to the Renault Sport F1 Team set a time of 01:35.401s and speaking following the session he said:
Today was fast and fun, it was actually an enjoyable qualifying session. I thought I had Kimi for fourth but he just got me by half a tenth. I would be happier with fourth than fifth but we got through Q2 on the ultrasoft which was our target. There is a big step, maybe one second between the ultra and the hyper so we needed to do more or less the perfect lap on the ultra to make it through Q2. It was very close and I was in P10 but the team made the call to abort the lap and we just made it through. My first run in Q3 was good and we looked very close but both Mercedes and Ferrari improved. Fifth and sixth as a Team doesn’t look that special on paper but the gap is small and we are competitive. We have solid race pace and hopefully our degradation will be better than Ferrari and Mercedes and we can apply the pressure. I’ll be staring down the two Ferraris on the grid, they’re in my way of a podium at the moment so I’ll try and get in front of them as quickly as possible. All weekend our car has been strong, especially in the last sector, so the podium fight is on.”
Max Verstappen will start the race from sixth place having set a time of 01:35.509s and speaking following the session he said:
I’m not overly happy with how qualifying went today. After the first run in Q3 I knew we needed to get the tyre temperatures down in order to improve the grip. We tried this for my final run but unfortunately they were still too high, this meant I aborted my flying lap as I was just sliding everywhere, especially in the final sector. The car balance wasn’t quite as good as it has been in previous qualifying sessions, I wasn’t able to get what I wanted out of the lap. Starting on hypersofts wasn’t the original plan but it could be interesting, being on a different compound to some of the others could prove helpful. Overtaking is a bit tricky around here, definitely not as straight forward as Brazil. It will take strategy and a bit of luck to be on top tomorrow. Our race pace once again looks good, so I’ll do my best to get on the podium.”
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing will not only say goodbye to Daniel Ricciardo at the end of the race on Sunday, although he has not been released to join his new team for the end of season test but it is also the final race with their engine supplier Renault as they switch to Honda power for 2019.
The outfit head into the race on Sunday having already secured third place in the Constructors championship.
Speaking ahead of the race Team Principal Christian Horner said:
“It was a strong session for Daniel to get through Q2 on the ultrasoft compound in his last qualifying for us. Max unfortunately didn’t have a great run on his set of ultras, so resorted to the hypersoft in the final stages of Q2. That means we’re starting from the third row on two different compounds which strategically could make things interesting. As we moved into Q3 unfortunately we couldn’t compete with the high power modes of Ferrari and Mercedes, but Daniel produced a great lap to qualify fifth with Max just behind him in sixth. Our long run pace and tyre degradation has looked good all weekend, so we will definitely be in the fight tomorrow.”