With Lando Norris starting from the back of the grid due to an engine change, the responsibility was on Ricciardo to perform in qualifying.

The Australian ultimately qualified seventh in Mexico, between the Ferrari pair of Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc.

It was a strong recovery from Ricciardo after he missed most of the second practice session due to a gearbox problem, while McLaren generally lacked performance on Friday.

Reflecting on qualifying, Ricciardo believes that qualifying seventh - even though it was behind one of the Ferraris - could be a “blessing in disguise” as it ensures that he starts the race on the clean side of the grid.

“I think the gap was two-thousandths of a second or something,” Ricciardo said. “I’m definitely on the wrong end of the gaps this year.

“Splitting them is okay. They seemed a lot quicker than us yesterday. So I’m happy to have put up a better fight today. Clean side of the grid might be a blessing in disguise, so use that as my glass-half-full for missing out on six by that small gap. It was a decent lap.

“Into Turn 13 I locked the front, and so that is where the time was. It was on me, it was not in the car. It was my mistake. But nonetheless seventh should be all right.”

After not doing any race simulations in FP2, Ricciardo is unsure how McLaren’s pace in the grand prix will stack up compared to Ferrari.

“I do not know,” he added. “I don’t really know where we are. But I’m happy to be in the mix today. We fear that Ferrari would be fourth and fifth and we would be eighth and ninth. So we are there in the mix.

“As we showed in Austin if we can have track position on them then anything can happen in the race. We’ll have some more fun tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it.”

With Norris starting from the back, his focus in qualifying was giving his teammate a tow down the start-finish straight.

Despite the straight being so long, the British driver doesn’t expect his recovery through the field to be an easy one.

“It is not an easy track to race on,” Norris explained. “It was a difficult decision to take it [engine penalty] here, but it is the best choice we had. We can still do a lot. Daniel showed that the car is decent.

“We are using it tow and everything we had. And he did a good lap. We are not as quick as Ferrari, and red bull or a long way ahead of us. I still look forward to it, and I could still do Q1 and Q2 and give it my best shot.

“But you know that it does not mean much at the end of the day. I am still excited for this weekend and look forward to tomorrow. It is going to be a tricky day but will give it another shot.”