MELBOURNE, Australia -- Daniel Ricciardo says Lewis Hamilton's pole position lap at the Australian Grand Prix was like Mercedes showing the finger to the rest of the paddock and throwing a pie in everyone's face.
Hamilton qualified over 0.6s clear of the rest of the field at the season-opening qualifying session in Melbourne -- the first clear indication that Mercedes has lost none of the advantage it held over its rivals for the past four years. Ricciardo -- who had a three-place grid penalty regardless but had hoped to set a lap time within 0.3s of Mercedes -- said it was a clear signal to the rest of the paddock.
"I knew that they would have a bit more, and I expected them to be more than two tenths quicker than us, but to go that much quicker at the end, that was like them doing this [shows the finger] to everyone," he said. "It was like throwing a pie in everyone's face. So look they can do it, they are obviously the ones that are leading. I know it would be nice to be in that position, but for everyone else it sucks!"
Asked if it was disheartening that Mercedes still had a clear advantage over the rest of the teams, Ricciardo added: "Yeah that sucks. It is frustrating because I am over it. Everyone else wants to see them get challenged a bit more. That was a little bit of a punch in the stomach to everyone.
"So I know they are loving it, they are in a good position, but everyone else is hating it. So hopefully we can catch up. Hopefully in the race they don't have as much as that because that is a bit scary that [qualifying engine] mode they got."
Ricciardo will start his home race from eighth on the grid once his three-place penalty for speeding under red flags in Friday practice is added to his fifth-place qualifying position. He said his qualifying lap, which was 0.27s shy of teammate Max Verstappen, was not his best.
"I missed a few tenths," he admitted. "I just saw the compare to Max and it was pretty much all in the first sector. There is a little bit in braking. But quite a chunk on the straights as well. So it looked like...let's say I was the first out in the...I was losing a bit on the straights.
"It was okay, I don't think it was too bad as far as the balance went, but we ran out of front wing quite early in the qualifying. We kept asking for a bit more front grip, but there was not anything really, we could do at the end to get more out of it. So Q1, Q2 I was relatively happy.
"We aborted the second Q2 lap but generally I was feeling okay with the balance. But at the end when you are just leaning on the car, that extra three, four tenths, we just lacked a bit of front end grip."