Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo 'punched above his weight' and was an 'unexpected' sixth in qualifying for the German Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was only 16th quickest in final practice this morning. However, he managed to make it through to the top-ten shootout with relative ease and then posted a good lap in Q3, a 1 minute 30.528 seconds, which was enough to put him on the third row alongside Lotus' Romain Grosjean.
It was the second race in succession he has made it through to the final qualifying session, and well timed, given he is one of the candidates being considered by Red Bull
to replace Mark Webber
“I'm really delighted with the way qualifying went and it's very encouraging to be sixth fastest for the second race in a row, which means we are seeing signs of progress and consistency,” said the Aussie.
“However, it was not as straightforward here as in Silverstone last week and we definitely had to pull something out of the bag to do the time and get into Q3. We exceeded our expectations today, as in FP3 we did not look so strong.
“I was particularly pleased with my Q2 lap. I think we did the best we could today and now we look ahead to the race. Last weekend I felt there was a better result than eighth waiting for me and I would like to go for better than seventh, which is my best finish so far. If there's a chance of a podium, let's go for it! Nothing's impossible. The tyre strategy is going to be very interesting with some of the top ten on the grid starting on Primes.”
Toro Rosso's head of vehicle performance, Laurent Mekies felt Ricciardo definitely produced something special during qualifying.
“Daniel qualified in the same position as he did in Silverstone, but today it was more unexpected. It did not look that promising yesterday and we changed a lot of things on both cars. In the end Daniel nailed his lap in Q1 and Q2 and then produced another good lap in Q3 and he was definitely punching above his weight this afternoon,” stated Mekies.
Team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne meanwhile had a more sobering day and was eliminated in Q2. He will start 14th: “We just weren't quick enough this afternoon,” said the Frenchman. “All weekend my car has been very difficult to drive and that situation hasn't improved since Friday and I have never really managed to put together a good lap.
“In qualifying, I didn't make any mistakes and I was hoping for much better. Even if we cannot work on the cars before the race, we need to understand exactly what caused this drop in performance.
“Maybe it is linked to the tyres, their temperature or pressure, but I'm not sure. We will see what we can do tomorrow, where I hope to be more competitive and be able to push harder.”