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Ricciardo still buoyant after “complete contrast”

Matt Clayton
Monday, 6 May 2024

Daniel Ricciardo was a star in the Miami Grand Prix Sprint and an afterthought in the race, but the RB driver found reason for optimism after getting some points on the board for 2024 in Florida.

Daniel Ricciardo left Miami in a positive frame of mind despite Sunday’s Grand Prix resulting in just a 15th-place finish, a poor Grand Prix qualifying on Saturday failing to dampen his enthusiasm after he was the star of the Sprint on Saturday.

The 34-year-old scored his first points for 2024 with a fourth in the Sprint after a stunning fourth in qualifying for the short-form race on Friday afternoon, where he was just four-tenths of a second behind pole-sitter Max Verstappen (Red Bull).


He held onto that position and repelled Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri on Saturday morning, but a “bad” qualifying effort on Saturday afternoon for the Grand Prix proper saw him knocked out of Q1 in 18th, which became last on the grid after his penalty for a safety car infringement with Nico Hulkenberg (Haas) from the previous race in China was applied.

Stymied in a DRS train for much of the race, Ricciardo rose as high as 10th after starting on hard tyres and running a longer first stint than most of his rivals, but struggled to make progress after his sole pit stop on lap 28.

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“A complete contrast – great qualifying Friday and a great [Sprint] race, and then a bad qualifying Saturday and bad race,” the RB driver said, after lamenting a lack of grip on the soft Pirelli rubber in Q1.

“It’s nothing more than that. We know the strengths of our car when we can show it and the weaknesses, and that’s on me as well to qualify better.

“Entering the race you always have some optimism, and after the pace we had in the Sprint we felt like we could charge through the pack, but it’s a very different race for us when you’re in traffic, it’s a lot harder to use our pace.

“It’s simple, we just can’t qualify at the back – that’s really where we made it difficult for ourselves.”

Ricciardo’s disappointment was tempered by his Sprint showing, where he didn’t put a foot wrong under heavy pressure from Sainz for the final 14 laps.

“Fighting towards the front just feels so much nicer and you see a Ferrari in your mirrors … it was ‘alright, challenge accepted!’,” he said.

“Every lap I was able to hold Carlos off, I gave myself a little pat on the back. As we got closer to the finish I felt, maybe we can really do this. There was nothing left I could give, no tyre saving, nothing … I was just going for it and I knew that was what it was going to take. It felt really good, and the team deserves it. We’d been through some stuff to get here, so it was nice to remind some people.”

Ricciardo’s former McLaren teammate Lando Norris took his first win on Sunday – the pair were teammates in 2021-22, with Ricciardo taking McLaren’s most recent win before Miami at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Ricciardo said he was “proud” of Norris taking his first win on his 110th Grand Prix start.

“Lando, I’m very happy for him, proud to see him get his first win,” he said.

“I think when you’re teammates with someone, you get to know them a bit better and you have a closer connection with them. You saw his talent and ability and you knew it was only a matter of time. Nothing’s guaranteed in this sport, but you felt like it was going to happen sooner rather than later. So really happy for him to have a day like this.

Daniel Ricciardo at the Miami Grand Prix

Daniel's Miami Grand Prix by the numbers

  • Sprint (19 laps): Started 4th, finished 4th
  • Race (57 laps): Started 20th, finished 15th
  • Fastest lap: 1min 32.122secs (19th), lap 57
  • Points this event: 5
  • Points this season: 5 (14th in world championship)