Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has labelled the engine change completed on Daniel Ricciardo’s car between FP3 and qualifying at the Chinese Grand Prix as “miraculous.”
Ricciardo suffered a turbo failure with 25 minutes remaining in the final hour-long practice session. The team had two hours between sessions to change Ricciardo’s power unit in order to get the car onto the track for qualifying.
With just three minutes left of the 18-minute Q1 session, the mechanics completed the task. Ricciardo eventually qualified sixth.
“What they have achieved today is miraculous,” said Horner when speaking to Sky Sports. “Getting the engine turned around – and there was quite a lot of work in getting that engine dressed and into the car as well – was just herculean.
“And Max [Verstappen’s] mechanics were diving in as well whenever they could. That is what a team is all about and that was the biggest result of qualifying for us today, in achieving that feat.”
Given that he missed the first 15 minutes of qualifying, Ricciardo only had time for one lap in Q1. His 1m33.877s was only fast enough for 14th on the timesheet and less than 0.2 seconds clear of the cut-off time for Q1 elimination.
“In Q1, the tyres were pretty cold driving down the pitlane because the guys had got them on pretty early, as they still had to do some gear-shift checks.
“From there he was able to settle down and get into the rhythm of qualifying.
by finishing the session in sixth place, Ricciardo will join team-mate Verstappen on the third-row of the grid on Sunday. He edged out Ricciardo by 0.152s to qualify in fifth, but was still 0.701s behind pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel.
Ferrari and Mercedes, who locked-out the first and second rows respectively, will both start the race on the more durable soft tyres, while both Red Bull’s are committed to starting with the ultrasofts.
“Fifth and sixth – we were pretty close to the Mercedes,” Horner added. “Ferrari [has had] tremendous pace here this weekend, particularly in qualifying.
“We’ll be starting the race on a different tyre and that could be quite interesting strategically.”