AT least Daniel Ricciardo could still make light of it.
In a sport where everyone at the top end is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to claw back tenths of a second, it can’t be easy to see a rival team take pole position with almost seven tenths up their sleeve.
Ricciardo falls from fifth quickest in qualifying to eighth on the grid for the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix by dint of his grid penalty, but felt frustrated at the size of the lap time deficit to Lewis Hamilton.
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The pole man flatly denied his Mercedes power unit had a ‘party mode’ — an engine setting that boosts performance for a single lap for qualifying — but the extent of the margin suggested otherwise.
“Hopefully in the race they don’t have as much as that because that’s a bit scary that mode they’ve got,” he said.
“To go that much quicker than everyone at the end, that was like them doing that (at which point he gave the finger with both hands) to everyone.
“It was like throwing a pie in everyone’s face.
“It is frustrating because I’m over it, everyone wants to see them challenged more. That was a little bit of a punch in the stomach to everyone.
“We have to try and figure it out.”
Earlier in the weekend Red Bull team boss Christian Horner suggested the straight line difference was as much as 7km/h, despite them having “their biggest rear wing on the car (while) we have our smallest one.”
The speed trap readings from qualifying backed up the assertion; Ricciardo’s best speed was 7.7km/h down on Hamilton’s best.
Ricciardo was the only driver to match Hamilton through the final sector of the lap, but lost time on both the pole man and his teammate Max Verstappen in both of the others.
“I didn’t think it was too bad as far as the balance went but we ran out of front wing quite early in the qualifying and kept asking for a bit more front grip but there wasn’t really anything more we could do at the end to get a bit more out of it,” he said.
“Q1 and Q2 I was relatively happy, we aborted the second Q2 lap but generally I was feeling okay with the balance.
“At the end when we were just leaning on the car that extra three or four tenths, we just lacked a bit of front grip.”