Daniel Ricciardo says he knew his Red Bull had the capability to mix it with Ferrari but didn't expect to see both cars ahead of the Italian manufacturer in qualifying as the team secured a second row lockout.
After being pushed into a second run in Q2 the Australian driver carried just one set of fresh soft Pirelli tyres in the pole shootout, denying him the shot at two flyers, but was able to dial in his Red Bull first time to take third on the grid for tomorrow's Spanish Grand Prix.
Ricciardo felt he had the single lap pace to put pressure on the Ferrari pair of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen but hadn't expected both him and new team-mate Max Verstappen to make the jump on to the second row at the Circuit de Catalunya.
“We've locked out the second row of the grid so I'm really happy to be here but for both of us to be in front of Ferrari on the second row,” Ricciardo said. “I thought maybe one of us could sneak in and a get a P4 and split the Ferraris but for both of us to be in front is really cool. We know from the start Max is quick and has shown that throughout as well as yesterday.
“In Q3 I only had one lap and I knew I had the pace and where I could do it was just a case of putting it all together. Before that I hadn't really put it all together but Q3 is where it counts so I'm really happy.”
Ricciardo feels the second row lockout is a marker of Red Bull's progress after a tricky opening to last year with engine unreliability and is thrilled to see it carry its momentum into the beginning of this season.
With a track which suits the characteristics of his Red Bull machine the Australian driver is aiming to convert third on the grid into his first rostrum result of the season and potentially put some pressure on the dominant Mercedes duo.
“It is the first track of the year we have put on all of the downforce we have on the car and it shown as our strengths are coming back,” he said. “We've shown as a team this year and today we've shown that we have a good car underneath us and it will be interesting at tight and twister circuits like Monaco it will be interesting and fun.
“To be back here tomorrow I need to do what I've been doing this year and keep it up after driving well. I'd love to say we can fight with them [Mercedes] but hopefully we can hang with them, grab a slip stream to drag us into turn one and stay close..”