Ricciardo relieved after qualifying seventh

Sat Mar 14, 2015 6:16am EDT
 
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By Julian Linden

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Daniel Ricciardo unleashed a blistering final lap on Saturday to end a frustrating 24 hours with a glimmer of hope and seventh place on the starting grid for his home Australian Grand Prix.

Exasperated after everything had seemed to be going against him, the Red Bull driver saved his best for last and whipped around the Melbourne track in one minute 28.329 seconds.

The Australian was still two seconds behind double world champion Lewis Hamilton, who snatched pole position for a Mercedes team that looks to have Sunday's race at their mercy, but relieved after fearing he might start further back.

"I’m happy now. Or happier. It’s only seventh but how the weekend has been going, I think we’ve got to be really happy with that," he said.

"Qualifying was the first time I got to use a soft tire this weekend and we chipped away at it. That’s what I was most pleased about, the progress we made through the session. So that’s promising."

Ricciardo, third in last year's championship and the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race, had endured a rotten start to the weekend.

He missed Friday's final practice session after a power unit failure, leaving him with only three to last the rest of the season without incurring a penalty.

He also lost more valuable time on Saturday when the car stalled after leaving pit lane.   Continued...

 
Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia drives past a plover bird during the third practice session of the Australian F1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne March 14, 2015. REUTERS/Jason Reed