In what could be his last United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, qualifying certainly didn’t go how Daniel Ricciardo would’ve hoped.
The much-loved Australian who hilariously strolled into the paddock on Thursday riding a horse, was a shock elimination from Q1 in what was a blustery Texas evening.
Ricciardo could only manage P17 but was just under a tenth of a second behind 15th-placed Alex Albon, highlighting just how close the cut-off was for Q2.
It represents the 33-year-old’s second Grand Prix in a row where he’s been eliminated in Q1, something that actually has become somewhat of a common theme of the Honey Badger’s woeful season.
To further commiserate his result, McLaren team-mate Lando Norris once again made it to Q3 and claimed eighth place; however, both Norris and Ricciardo will rise at least one place due to many drivers taking grid penalties once again.
The grid will look fairly odd on Sunday, with the list of drivers accepting a grid penalty to change a powertrain component seemingly extending by the hour.
Ricciardo will be hoping for a considerably better Sunday than Saturday, with the Aussie wanting to impress what will be a record-breaking Austin crowd.
Saturday was actually an emotional day for the Australian, following the news which came prior to qualifying that Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz had sadly died, aged 78.
Ricciardo, of course, raced for Red Bull from 2014-2018, where he claimed seven victories during his time with the Austrians.
He also raced for Red Bull sister side Toro Rosso (known now as AlphaTauri) from 2012-2013; the Aussie was actually part of the Red Bull junior system from the age of 19 meaning he had support from the front-running team.
His relationship with Red Bull is reportedly set to get a second wind, with the Australian having supposedly agreed to be their reserve driver for 2023.
It was widely believed that Ricciardo would be Mercedes’ reserve for next season, replacing AlphaTauri-bound Nyck de Vries; however, Sky Sports journalist Ted Kravitz revealed this wasn’t the case.
Kravitz revealed to the Sky Sports F1 team that Ricciardo had agreed a deal to be someone’s reserve driver and gave the vital detail that “it’s not Mercedes”.
Kravitz told the commentary team following the Aussie’s Q1 elimination, with all the lines now pointing to a reserve role at Red Bull.
“We thought Mercedes, because they now have a vacancy given that Nyck De Vries, their reserve driver is going to Alpha Tauri,” Kravitz told Sky Sports.
“I’m told it’s not Mercedes. So that only leaves Red Bull, the (only two) teams who have a reserve driver on hand at every race.”