McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has described his qualifying effort at the Spanish Grand Prix as a “mini breakthrough” for his 2021 season.
Ricciardo is still getting accustomed to his new surroundings at McLaren, and was dealt a blow last time out at Portimao when he failed to advance beyond Q1.
In Barcelona, the Australian didn’t start a second flying lap in Q3 after failing to get around to start the lap in time, but still managed to take seventh, as most of his rivals didn’t improve.
Team-mate Lando Norris was ninth fastest, four-tenths down on Ricciardo’s time.
“I’m certainly standing here more happy than I was one week ago,” Ricciardo said, as he now leads team-mate Lando Norris 3-1 in the intra-team qualifying head-to-head.
“I drove with more confidence but I’m aware that there are still some corners that I’m still finding my way, so to speak. It’s a mini-breakthrough, let’s say that.”
Ricciardo finished 15th in the timesheets on Friday, sprouting concerns that another tough weekend lay ahead of him.
However, alterations to the set-up granted him more confidence behind the wheel, particularly through high-speed corners.
“I think probably the set-up, which then allowed me to drive better and more confidently,” Ricciardo said when asked what changed from Friday.
“The car was tricky yesterday, I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence in the high-speed stuff to be honest.
“I think that showed today, sector one we were pretty quick, purple a few times. Once you get into [Turn] 1, you jump on the throttle and hold on.
“I certainly had the confidence to hold onto it today. We brought some updates, and I think we improved the set-up to make the updates work today.”
Ricciardo has scored points at every race so far in 2021, taking a best result of sixth at Imola last month.