Daniel Ricciardo had his best qualifying session of 2019.
Daniel Ricciardo had his best qualifying session of 2019.

Ricciardo ‘scared’ after Monaco gamble

DANIEL Ricciardo has delivered his best qualifying performance in a Renault as he snatched a spot on the third row of the grid for the jewel race in Formula 1's crown.

The Aussie star finished the final qualifying session in seventh place, but has been bumped up to P6 on the back of a three-place grid penalty handed down to Red Bull's Pierre Gasly for blocking Romain Grosjean during the second qualifying session.

Ricciardo has revealed "brave" set-up moves following the end of the final practice session on Saturday were the catalyst for Renault finally finding the qualifying pace needed to push to the front of the best-of-the-rest pack behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.

The former Red Bull racer said a decision to roll the dice with aggressive set-up changes to his front wing proved a masterstroke.

He said the decision initially went against his better judgment after previously feeling uncomfortable with the same set-up because of the imbalance of grip it created between his front and back tyres.

Whatever it was, it ended up delivering the team's best Saturday of 2019.

"I'm happy with the end result, especially with where we started on Thursday," Ricciardo said.

"We made some brave changes to the car even after FP3, but that worked and going that extra mile has paid off. The team made a strong recovery today and we can be pleased with that.

"We got into a good rhythm from Q1 all the way through to Q3, which is so important here as qualifying is so significant. Some variables tomorrow could make it interesting and I wouldn't be disappointed if I wake up to rain. But, wet or dry, I'll be ready."

Daniel Ricciardo had it dialled in.
Daniel Ricciardo had it dialled in.

Ricciardo said the performance the team was able to find with its front wing tinkering was unexpected and left him a little "scared".

"For me when I came into the car initially, I thought the front was a bit strong for the rear," Ricciardo said.

"So I was trying to dial front grip out. But coming here this weekend it seemed we needed to go a fair bit back to what I initially didn't like.

"Around here it seemed to be what we had to do. That was where it was at. My kind of preference, it has helped up until this weekend, but we've gone back to being more aggressive to the front.

"As the session went on, we added more and more front wing, and we didn't really find a limit which scared me. So that was cool."

Ricciardo's day got even better hours after qualifying after race stewards handed down a penalty to Gasly.

"The driver of car No. 8 [Grosjean] had to brake hard to avoid colliding with car No. 10 [Gasly], which was clearly going slowly on a preparation lap, and was on the race line," an FIA ruling said.


"At the time car No. 8 was clearly the only car on a fast lap in the area, and while the stewards accepted that it was unlikely that the driver of car No. 10 had any opportunity in that sequence of turns to see car No. 8, the team admitted that they had failed to give any warning."

Ricciardo will start alongside Kevin Magnussen on the third row, behind Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton, who secured pole position, and Valtteri Bottas.

Max Verstappen was third and Sebastian Vettel was fourth.

Hamilton outpaced Mercedes teammate Bottas by 0.086 seconds.

The defending five-time champion and series leader clocked an unprecedented lap in 1min 10.166sec to end Bottas' run of three successive poles as Mercedes, mourning the death this week of non-executive chairman Niki Lauda, produced a record-equalling 62nd front row lockout.

It was an emotional Hamilton's second pole in Monaco and the 84th of his career as he dug deep in the final seconds to find the speed required to grab the prime grid position from his teammate.

"Whoooah!" shouted Hamilton on team radio.

"That's what I am talking about."

Bottas said: "I'm disappointed. I felt after the first lap there were plenty of places to improve, but I had traffic and couldn't get the tyres up to temperature."

Luckless local hero Charles Leclerc qualified 16th after a strategic muddle by Ferrari in the opening part of qualifying.