Daniel Ricciardo thought he was going to crash out of Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying following a “kiss” with the barriers during his first Q3 run.
The Red Bull driver was on his first flying lap in the final segment of qualifying when he ran wide and touched the wall on the exit of Turn 15 - the same corner he crashed at in practice at the 2016 Baku event.
Ricciardo avoided sustaining damage to his RB14 in the brush with the barriers and admitted he simply took too much speed into the corner.
“Q3 on the first run we brushed the wall and lost some time,” Ricciardo explained. “The last lap I had to make it clean and fortunately clean was fast enough for the second row. But luckily it was just a kiss.
“When I turned in I thought it was going to be more than a kiss. It was at Turn 15, where I crashed two years ago. The car turned enough but I still hit it. I knew I went in very fast, like too fast but it’s fine.”
Ricciardo went on to secure fourth place on the grid for Sunday’s race, outpacing teammate Max Verstappen by less than 0.1s.
The Australian finished less than half a second off Sebastian Vettel, who claimed his third straight pole for Ferrari. Ricciardo said Red Bull can “live with that gap” around a power hungry circuit, given Renault's current engine deficit to F1 rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.
“Second row is pretty good for us on Saturday. In the end it’s not bad. It was not the easiest session, Q2 was very close with the supersofts. We had a couple of yellow flags and it was difficult, but we just made it through.
“I think Seb was about four tenths or something in front, so I think we can live with that for now. I think we’ll be closer again when we get to Barcelona and Monaco, but it’s not too bad around this circuit and it gives a good chance to be right there tomorrow.”