Daniel Ricciardo Criticizes ‘Close Your Eyes’ F1 Qualifying Conditions at Monza

Published 09/11/2021, 6:32 AM EDT
Formula One F1 – Formula One – Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Baku City Circuit, Baku, Azerbaijan – June 3, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo during the press conference Pool via REUTERS/Clive Rose


The practice and qualifying sessions on Friday started a little later than usual. This was done to attract more viewers and audiences to the qualifying round. However, not all drivers were in favor of this decision. The delay meant that the qualifying ended nearing sunset. McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo explains the security risk of such decisions.

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29 milliseconds from a P3 position, Daniel Ricciardo qualified fifth; the Aussie was happy with the pace nonetheless. The Aussie is a fan of the sprint format but brings up a point that may need changing. “I’m not sure if [qualifying] has to be that late, to be honest. If I want to criticize something, I think we shouldn’t finish at 7 pm!”

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 10, 2021 Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during qualifying REUTERS/Jennifer Lorenzini

The race ended 45 minutes before it would have been too dark for racing conditions. “I drove with a transparent visor – normally you only drive it in the rain,” Ricciardo explains that on the off-chance there is an incident on the track, race resumption would be difficult in the dark. “That’s the thing when you get into that window of time – red flags, the weather – there’s really no tolerance for starting this late.” 

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However, Ricciardo understands the trial-and-error process of the sprint format; Monza hosts the second sprint qualifying in F1 history. Till then “Just close your eyes and step on the gas! I don’t know.”

Daniel Ricciardo- so close yet so far

The dim autumn evening in Monza was a pleasant one for Ricciardo, regardless. Having finally been able to maximize his McLaren on the circuit, Daniel qualified behind his teammate in fifth. However, on his radio, his race engineer delivered some frustrating news to Danny Ric.


Having missed out on what could have been a better position by milliseconds not only shows the Aussie’s promise on the circuit but also the competition he’s about to face.

The Honey Badger vented his frustrations, ” I’m so frustrated that we got that close but not quite close enough. It was more of a tease than anything, but it’s all good… unfortunately, I was on the wrong side of the milliseconds. It is what it is and I’m now looking forward to the racing.”

Formula One F1 – Italian Grand Prix – Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Monza, Italy – September 10, 2021 McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo during practice REUTERS/Massimo Pinca

Despite the result, Ricciardo can’t wait for his chance during the sprint qualifying. After all, the MCL35M has finally felt comfortable. “We didn’t put ourselves in a difficult situation with any of the out-laps and I was in the right places in terms of track position, we had good tows.”

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The Monza magic was strong in the McLaren cars, as they played the chicanes to their strengths. The good pace will receive a small boost from Bottas’ impending grid penalty on Sunday.

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With a potential McLaren, there are good chances of seeing Ricciardo bring back his shoe-y in front of the Italian crowd.

Watch this story: Ferrari Strategy Fails We Will Never Forget

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Shreya Sanjeev

345 articles

Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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