Daniel Ricciardo added to the protest talk in Qatar, jokingly of course, in a bid to escape the dirty side of the grid.
Ricciardo’s McLaren career has seen its fair share of difficult moments already, and Qatar qualifying can be added to that unwanted collection.
Managing only P14 on the grid around this constantly flowing Losail International Circuit, Ricciardo was already hurting, but the fact that he now starts on the dirty right-hand side of the grid, simply adds to the misery.
So, to escape, perhaps it is time for a protest of his own since this seems to be the talk of the F1 paddock these days?
“I think the insult to injury is the right-hand side of the grid is going to be terrible,” Ricciardo told Sky F1.
“I know that sounds real negative, but I think it’s speaking fact at the moment, there are no support categories this weekend so we will see if they can give it a polish tonight.
“Or we can protest someone, gain a position, they all got in my way so I’m going to protest them actually.
“There were a few cats in the last corner today, didn’t affect my lap, but they tried, and they failed. I know there was one Ferrari who I’m not happy with, and there was a Williams as well, so I’m out for blood!”
Lando makes it through to Q3.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) November 20, 2021
But as for the serious business, Ricciardo admitted that he simply lacked the pace to secure a better grid spot.
The McLaren MCL35M is known to struggle in the longer corners, so Ricciardo said that left him losing too much time, unable to hold on around a track where these long, fast and sweeping corners rule.
“Honestly, just didn’t have the pace, I think all weekend we were trying to find a bit more,” he admitted.
“That didn’t feel that bad, but just trying to carry a little bit more speed through a few corners and I just couldn’t quite get it to hold, so not really finding those last few tenths.
“So we will see what we can do [in the race], free tyre choice, I’ll take that, but ultimately just didn’t have the pace.
“Some corners feel pretty good, but I think we know this year these long corners is where we struggle more than others.
“Not being able to do a whole lot with the approach, I think that is where we are a little bit handcuffed in some ways.
“So I think that is tough to exploit, and I’m still not quite on top of exploiting that in those style of corners.
“To make it hang on you just have to slow down too much, so I think we just lose a lot of corner speed compared to some of the others.
“Of course it is frustrating, 14th is not great, but we will try and find a way to make it better tomorrow.”
It was a far better qualifying for Ricciardo’s team-mate Lando Norris who will start from P6, a grid slot beyond his expectations.
But after sitting through the longest debrief which he has ever been a part of, following struggles to cope with the wind in the last practice session, Norris was pleased to see it pay off between FP3 and qualifying.
Asked if he was happy with P6, Norris replied: “Yes very satisfied, I’m not P1 so it’s still a bit disappointing, but we weren’t expecting P6 at all, we were expecting to be a lot further down than that, so very happy, especially because my lap was good in the end.
“We struggled a lot in FP3 this morning, understanding the wind, the wind changed massively, but we had to re-understand so we probably did our longest debrief I’ve ever done in my life, trying to understand this morning. And it paid off.”