Wet qualifying leaves Ricciardo stuck on high downforce

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB14.
© XPB 

Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that today's rain-hit qualifying session has left him on the backfoot going into the French Grand Prix.

As a result of the inclement conditions, Ricciardo's plans to switch to a lower downforce set-up this morning had to be aborted. That could leave him something of a sitting duck at the Circuit Paul Ricard on Sunday.

"We split the cars yesterday on the downforce levels, with Max lower than me," Ricciardo explained after qualifying.

"It was pretty evenly matched yesterday, but it looked like the low was worth trying.

"We put that on for this morning, but with the weather we didn’t get to try it," he added after FP3 was largely washed-out. "We decided not to run in qualifying with something we hadn’t tried yet.

"In other sessions you can do other things on the car but in quali your hands are tied. So it was a frustrating day.

"In a way I was a passenger - or, not a passenger, but just limited with what I could improve because of the limitations in qualifying.

"We still had a lot of front wing in hand," he noted. "But I think by the end of Q1 we had already used every bit of it, and we still had understeer."

Even with the extra downforce, Ricciardo still out-paced Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying.

"Fifth is better than sixth," he said of his grid position. "But the session itself was frustrating."

Having to stick to the significantly higher downforce levels will definitely have an impact on the RB14 down the long, power-hungry straights at Le Castellet.

"For tomorrow come race time I’ll be confident, but I think we’re going to be a little slow on the straights compared to the guys in front.

"I've got I think more downforce than everyone else and therefore passing probably won't be that easy on the straights. So I need a good start, and then go from there."

Ricciardo will be starting the race on supersoft tyres, as will his team mate Max Verstappen and both Mercedes drivers.

However the two Ferrari drivers will start the race on the faster - but shorter-lived - ultras.

"In the dry on raw pace we are not quick enough to challenge Mercedes," insisted Ricciardo. "But if it rains then we might be the lucky dogs. I think the wet will make it interesting!"

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