Australian Grand Prix – Daniel Ricciardo was unable to break into the top ten for his home race, missing out on a Q3 appearance by 0.038 of a second.
Both Renault drivers were left disappointed with their Saturday afternoon after being eliminated from Q2 by the finest of margins.
Their testing and free practice pace had led many to believe that they would be present in the final part of qualifying in Melbourne, but both drivers were less than half-a-tenth of a second from progressing.
Nico Hulkenberg finished Q2 in eleventh place, while home favourite Ricciardo was just eight thousandths of a second behind his team-mate.
Their starting positions mean they have a free choice of tyre compound and, speaking after qualifying, a “disappointed” Ricciardo said he was optimistic of a strong result.
“I’m clearly disappointed not to make Q3, especially as it was just half a tenth and that’s something I can find in myself – I lost a bit of time in the first sector on the last run.
“We had the potential to make Q3 so when you don’t do the perfect lap, it’s frustrating. As expected the midfield is really close but I’m feeling optimistic for a strong result tomorrow.
“I always want to do well at home, but we have to keep a cool head, have a good start and then attack when necessary.”
Hulkenberg was set back by an electrical issue in Q2, but added that the team are confident in their long-run pace around the Albert Park circuit:
“Making Q3 was definitely possible today. It’s unfortunate that we had a small problem, which cost us a shot at the top ten,” said Hulkenberg.
“I lost a bit of time on my first lap in Q2 through traffic and a lock-up, but we showed the pace was there for a strong result.
“We’re competitive. We know it’s close and small margins make a big difference. We’re not in bad shape ahead of tomorrow and a strong race from eleventh on the grid is possible. The car felt good with long-run pace on Friday and I’ve felt comfortable in the car all weekend. We have every chance to pick up points tomorrow.”