Daniel Ricciardo said sixth on the grid for the Canadian Grand Prix felt better than it looked on paper after a weekend spent chasing his tail on set-up.
Ricciardo, who capped a dominant performance in Monaco with a win two weeks ago, has struggled for pace since arriving at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. In qualifying he finished at the back of the customary battle between the top three teams, nearly 0.2s off Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, who managed to split the Mercedes drivers and claim third position.
Given his struggles to find a good balance since the start of Friday practice, Ricciardo feels he can take comfort in how he performed on Saturday afternoon.
"Looking at the results I was actually pretty happy with how qualifying went," Ricciardo said. "We did pretty well considering...the weekend we lacked some rhythm.
"We had a few problems. I feel like we had one run here, one run there to kind of get it right. But then we wouldn't have the right set up. We were chasing ourselves all weekend. So qualifying we actually made really good progress.
"Even this morning we struggled a little bit, the first run we had some more issues. Again we just lacked a bit of rhythm. So qualifying was good.
"I am not happy with sixth, but am I happy with the way I drove and actually what we did, yes. It is the tail end of that pack, which is why I am not happy. But looking at where we were, it doesn't make me satisfied, but I feel like we did all we could with what we had."
Ricciardo's car has spent more time in the garage than Verstappen's this weekend, but Ricciardo does not think he can use too much of that as an excuse for the gap to the Dutchman.
"I definitely feel that some of it has been that, lack of track time, lack of rhythm. That has contributed to it and also he has just been driving really well all weekend. He has been comfortable from the start, and he has been able to set up each run and they have not really changed the car at all. We were chasing our tail a bit more. So it is a combination of that and the fact that he has just been driving really well."
The No.3 car was expected to take a penalty ahead of the weekend as a consequence of the engine issue which nearly robbed Ricciardo of victory in Monaco. Red Bull feared it would force a switch onto his third MGU-K component of the season -- enough for a ten-place grid drop, which may have triggered a few other changes with their own penalty attached.
Instead the team switched back to his first MGU-K of the season, which failed during the Chinese Grand Prix weekend but was still useable and, crucially, can be used without a punishment.
"I am still happy with the decision. If the start goes well and we gain a position or two, then I don't think a podium is unrealistic as long as we get the hypers[-soft tyres] to lap whatever it is to still do a one stop. But I prefer to start towards the front here.
"I know sixth isn't the best position but it is still better than 15th. If we got in that mess around here on this circuit, it is not as bad as Monaco but it is still very difficult to make much progress here."