Daniel Ricciardo was left at the tail end of Q3, concluding a low-key Russian Grand Prix qualifying session for Red Bull Racing.
Ricciardo comfortably made it to Q3 but only took the track midway through the last segment for a single run which actually proved slower than his best Q2 lap time. In the end, the Australian will start tomorrow's race from 10th place.
"I thought Q3 would not be easy for us, so to get into Q3 was already, I won’t say over achieving, but it was nice to get into it," Ricciardo said.
"Qualifying was our first low fuel running all weekend. We tried to find some compromises with the set up, and we made a change for Q3 which I thought would work but it didn’t. But even at our best we were about eighth or ninth, so we didn’t lose that much from it. But we learned from it, so that was a positive. I don’t think we will make that change or mistake again."
Overall Ricciardo believed the day's performance was linked to a lack of grunt once again of his Renault power unit. While progress has undoubtedly been accomplished on that front, Red Bull's engine still lacks the muscle to contend with its Mercedes and Ferrari rivals.
"This is definitely one of our weaker circuits and although there are a lot of relatively high downforce corners the straights are long. And getting on to the straights at low speed is when the horse power comes into play, so we lose a lot already getting on to the main straight."
The Red Bull senior also pointed to the Sochi track surface, which has oddly remained green, as a further source of difficulty.
"The asphalt is strange here, it has not really got that top layer of oil off of it that a new track has. Austin had it the first year and then we went back the second year and it was pretty awesome. But this still has that weird feel about it."
"It is quite hard to get a balance or an understanding of the balance, especially with just one session, realistically just one proper session. It was not a disaster but I am not sure how much more we could have done given the time. We knew that this circuit was weak for us, so we were not expecting a whole lot."