Daniel Ricciardo achieved today his best starting grid position with McLaren and will begin tomorrow's race in P4. His performance improved with his confidence and the more laps completed, as the Australian driver had barely made the cut in Q1 and Q2.
He explained in the post-qualifying press conference that in the first part of the session he didn't have the best feeling with his car, but that after a bit of adaptation to the track conditions it only got better:
“I think it kind of showed that it took a few laps to get that confidence and these conditions certainly reward some feel and some finesse but ultimately confidence as well. So Q1 I was still a bit off but I was making improvements and then Q2 still a bit off but I made a really good step, and then I think Q3 was another good step."
Ricciardo was satisfied with his improvement, especially considering the tricky session conditions, but believes he could perform even better in Q1:
“So I don’t want to say that it’s perfect yet, of course, but I’m really happy with the progress and obviously I just expect Q1 to be closer and then I can be in the mix early on."
"But yeah, second row, I’m going to take it of course. With these crazy weather conditions and everything I’ll take it with a smile," he concluded.
According to the McLaren driver, the main issue in wet races is visibility, much worse than in qualifying, which could make it hard for him to put in a similar performance:
The only thing with racing in the wet is visibility. So qualifying you can create space to a point where the spray is not too bad, but in a race you’re there. And even in P4 you’re going to have pretty much no visibility."
"So I mean that’s the only thing that makes racing in the wet less fun, because you literally don’t see. But for competitiveness-wise I don’t know."
Personally, Ricciardo wishes for tomorrow's race to be dry, as he believes the car performs better in such conditions, but he knows that he can't bank on the weather:
“I think we’ve got a decent car in the dry, so if the sun’s shining I’m certainly not against that. We’ll see. Whatever I think or hope for, it ain’t going to change what will actually happen! So I think right now all I want is a warm shower, not a cold one, and we’ll go from there.”
Unfortunately, it was a mixed day for McLaren, as Lando Norris crashed at Eau Rouge at the beginning of Q3 after topping both earlier sessions. The accident, following yesterday's W-series one in the same spot, brought up again the issue of the frequency of crashes in that corner, and yesterday all drivers joined a meeting on future changes to the track barriers in the sector.
Ricciardo gave his opinion: "I think they’re going to open up – so not change the layout of the circuit but push back the barriers and all that and try to open it all up."
He expanded that the track design shouldn't be modified, but that improvements for safety reasons would be welcome:
"It’s obviously an extremely fun corner and an iconic corner on the calendar but when it goes wrong it’s always a big one. So if it doesn’t change the shape but just increases safety, of course we’re on board with that."
The Australian concluded mentioning that his teammate, which was getting medical checkups at the time, was doing "OK for the most part", as Norris had radioed, and that he would keep in touch with him to hear about his conditions.