Lack of straight-line speed hurts Ricciardo in Japanese GP qualifying

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Six days after taking his first Formula 1 win in over two years, Daniel Ricciardo came back down to earth with a bump on Saturday after qualifying sixth for the Japanese Grand Prix.

Ricciardo was outqualified by both Ferrari drivers and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen in qualifying, with the two teams fighting for the four grid slots behind Mercedes on the front row.

Ricciardo explained after the session that a lack of straight-line speed was harming his efforts, costing him time compared to his rivals – including Verstappen across the garage.

“We tried. We did all we could but if I’m honest I was a bit slow on the straights,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“There were signs of it there last week but I didn’t mention it, I didn’t feel it was worthy, but it seems to be bigger here the deficit today, even comparing across the garage.

“It’s a little bit frustrating. I just see and compare and I’m bleeding down the straights, which obviously would have given a little bit more out of me today on the grid. We gain one position with Seb [Vettel’s grid penalty], but yeah, would have been nice to not have these issues.

“As a driver, it’s hard. You just see it, if you lose time down the straights, there’s not much you can do. I think the lap itself was OK, the second run was pretty good. I gained a bit in the first sector, but then started to lose as the lap went on so probably took a bit out of the tires.”

The Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 12am ET on Sunday.