'Progress means positivity' for Ricciardo, as Norris fumes

© XPB 

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo was feeling much more like his old self after a successful qualifying campaign for the Spanish Grand Prix wiped clean the memories of seven days ago.

Ricciardo failed to make it beyond the first round in Portugal and had started from 16th place on the grid. While he battled his way into the points by the end of the race, it wasn't an experience he wanted to repeat anytime soon.

Today's session saw the Australian in much better form as he successfully out-qualified his young team mate Lando Norris to start from eighth on the grid tomorrow.

"It was a little bit of a Monza scenario a couple years ago," he told Sky Sports F1 afterwards. "There was a tenth or so to fourth, and I think a tenth is always there.

"Maybe that was there, but nonetheless it was a much, much better day and happier even from yesterday and obviously a week ago. But progress: progress means positivity!"

Ricciardo has been on the receiving end of some critical comments in recent weeks, comparing less than favourably to his young team mate. Today's result helps put the seven-time Grand Prix race winner back on an even footing.

"It’s funny: everyone’s interpretation is the narrative. For sure, it’s taken time to get up to speed and also Lando has been driving exceptionally well.

"These two factors have been challenging, I guess," he acknowledged. "From that note it’s certainly a more positive day.

"And in saying that, there’s still a little bit of maybe what could have been because we missed the last run, we ran out of time."

As for Norris, he was still fuming about an incident in the first round of qualifying when he was held up on his flying lap by Haas' rookie driver Nikita Mazepin.

It meant that the team had to use an extra set of tyres in Q1, which affected their strategy later on as Norris was left with only one set of new soft compound tyres for Q3.

“I feel like it kind of cost me qualie today,” Norris told RaceFans.net and other media at Barcelona. “The car was good, I feel like I didn’t do a bad job.

"I just had one guy who held me up a lot, which meant I had to use my second set of tyres," he explained. “When it’s split by thousandths and hundredths and tenths and stuff, you want to have the opportunity to kind of improve and you can’t make any mistakes.

"Everyone got out of my way apart from one person," he continued. "I'm not gonna say names because it's unfair to do that, but I lost a lot of time, like, half a second, six, seven tenths or something.

"It kind of ruined my whole qualifying in a way," he added. "One small mistake or just something that doesn't go right, you can pay a big price for it.

“When you have something like that and you only have one set of tyres to really push on, it definitely cost us today.

"I think we had more pace in the car today," he said. "So it’s a bit annoying because I feel like we could have been fifth, sixth or something but it didn’t happen.

"It's just probably my worst session, my worst qualifying so far this year," he sighed. "So a bit of a shame, because there's definitely some more potential in the car. And I was feeling good, I just didn't put it together.

"There was one mistake really in Q3. I just went a bit wide over one of the kerbs and damaged a little bit the car but then didn't really improve on my second lap either."

Mazepin was subsequently handed a penalty by the race stewards for blocking Norris. However since he qualified in last place, the three-place grid drop is effectively meaningless.

He was also given a penalty point on his F1 superlicence, the second in six days after he was also penalised for ignoring blue flags and holding up Sergio Perez during the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Mazepin was less than impressed and criticised F1's "gentleman's agreement" about respecting track position during qualifying.

"I think it was a very prime example of that not sort of working in F1," he said in a video call with journalists on Saturday evening. "I was really trying to keep to it, ever since I took note of it, but it is very difficult when two cars overtake you going into last corner

"With the length of a car, which is two and a half metres, you just cannot put a third car there, and especially if the fourth car is arriving at full speed," he said. "I didn't feel like boxing up behind was an option, because that would have left my rear end on the racing line.

"The only option was to go, which I did," he concluded. "I'm not upset about it, because there's really not much I could have done, apart from, you know, disappear. Which unfortunately I'm not yet able to do."

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