‘It’s weird’: Ricciardo stumped by mystery Daniel Ricciardo walks around the track in Zandvoort. Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)


Daniel Ricciardo is not hiding his frustration after a day of qualifying that saw his team suffer one of its worst days in 2021.

Daniel Ricciardo is not hiding his frustrations after his team suffered one of its worst qualifying days of the year at the Dutch Grand Prix on Saturday night.

The Aussie will start the race from 10th after he snuck into the final session of qualifying before a lack of grip saw him completely out of contention for a spot near the pointy end of the grid.

Ricciardo out-qualified teammate Lando Norris for the second consecutive race with the British driver inexplicably unable to make it through to the third qualifying session. He will start from 13th on the grid.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen edged out championship leader Lewis Hamilton to claim pole position at his home race, but it was McLaren’s struggles that caught the eye.

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The team admitted after the race it is struggling to work out what is going wrong for them this weekend in a race where overtaking opportunities are minimal and starting grid position is crucial.

Norris has in general bested Ricciardo in qualifying this year and the sight of him more than 0.6 seconds slower than Ricciardo in the second session left F1 commentators scratching their heads.

“It’s weird, it’s weird,” Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg said on Sky Sports.

“Ricciardo in front is showing what the McLaren can do and usually Lando is at least there or has even been three, four, five tenths up from Daniel.

“So it’s very strange. Don’t know what’s going on there.”

Ricciardo told his team’s official website it was frustrating that the reason for the team’s struggles remains a mystery.

“There were a lot of things that felt good, and the lap times were good,” he said of the team’s early runs.

“It came to me quite naturally and normally, and I was able to improve a little bit in each corner. I felt comfortable.

“In Q3 I felt like I was lacking grip from Turn One, so it was a bit more of a struggle from then on. We don’t really know why yet. The track might have changed and maybe we just missed something, but we’ll look into that and try to find an answer.

“It’s frustrating as Q3 dictates the grid and that was our worst run in qualifying. There’re some positives to take from today, but still some unknowns. We’ll keep working at it.”

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl described it as a “very, very difficult Saturday afternoon”.

Verstappen made it look anything but.

Roared on by a sea of orange the Belgian-born Dutch driver, who was just 0.038 seconds quicker than Hamilton, whose Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas lines up on the second row alongside Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri.

The two Ferraris of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, who had both been so impressive in practice on Friday, hold down the third row.

Verstappen, who earlier in the day escaped a grid penalty over an on-track incident on Friday, clocked a quickest lap of 1:08.885.

“It’s an amazing feeling to get pole position here,” he said. “The crowd is incredible, the car is really nice to drive and this track as well — it’s really cool.

“It’s the best starting position, as passing will be difficult. Today was good, so I hope we can finish it off tomorrow.”

One black cloud on an otherwise sunny day for Red Bull was the premature exit after Q1 of Sergio Perez in their second car, making the task of holding off the Mercedes a little trickier.

Despite enthusiastic booing from the partisan crowd Hamilton paid generous tribute to Verstappen’s loyal followers.

“I want to say a big thank you to all the orange fans here, the Dutch fans. What an amazing venue and track. I really love coming to this country.

“Max did an amazing lap and I was so close to catching him. With yesterday’s session missed, it made it difficult, but I did my best.”

The seven-time champion who is going for another crack at his 100th career win added: “We haven’t seen a crowd like this in a while. It is great to see so many people here and I hope we can put on a great race. It is a very tough circuit, which is what makes it so fantastic to drive.”

Sunday’s grid will be missing Kimi Raikkonen after Alfa Romeo’s retiring Finn tested positive for Covid-19.

The 2007 world champion, 41, was replaced in Zandvoort by Alfa Romeo’s reserve driver Robert Kubica.

With Raikkonen needing a negative test before being allowed to return to the paddock, his participation in next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza is also in doubt.

Starting grid for Dutch Grand Prix

Front row Max Verstappen (NED/Red Bull-Honda), Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)

2nd row Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Mercedes), Pierre Gasly (FRA/AlphaTauri-Honda)

3rd row Charles Leclerc (MON/Ferrari), Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP/Ferrari)

4th row Antonio Giovinazzi (ITA/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari), Esteban Ocon (FRA/Alpine-Renault)

5th row Fernando Alonso (ESP/Alpine-Renault), Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/McLaren-Mercedes)

6th row George Russell (GBR/Williams-Mercedes), Lance Stroll (CAN/Aston Martin-Mercedes)

7th row Lando Norris (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes), Nicholas Latifi (CAN/Williams-Mercedes)

8th row Yuki Tsunoda (JPN/AlphaTauri-Honda), Sergio Perez (MEX/Red Bull-Honda)

9th row Sebastian Vettel (GER/Aston Martin-Mercedes), Robert Kubica (POL/Alfa Romeo-Ferrari)

10th row Mick Schumacher (GER/Haas-Ferrari), Nikita Mazepin (RUS/Haas-Ferrari)

— with AFP

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