Ricciardo finished the session in 12th place, while Norris progressed through in sixth, and then moved up to fifth on the final grid.
Norris’s time in Q3 was almost a second faster than Ricciardo had managed in Q2, although the Englishman was helped by track evolution.
Nevertheless, Ricciardo noted that the difference in pace has been there all weekend, and is at a loss to explain it.
“I’m probably confused than frustrated,” he said. “Obviously frustrated and upset, we know qualifying here is so big, but it’s probably got to a point where it’s not even the position now, it’s just we’ve been pretty much a second off all weekend.
“I’d like to say I’m just not confident or still need to learn the car but not a second, not around here.
“I’m certainly not being like, ‘Yeah, something is broken’, but I think we do have to have a look into maybe a bigger picture, because I refuse to believe I’m that slow around here.
“Obviously I’ve been around here with Max [Verstappen as teammate] and I’m sure Lando’s fast, but I refuse to believe he’s a second quicker around here, and I don’t mean to say that against him.
“But just all weekend, even crossing the line a lot of laps I felt good, I was like that’s a good lap. And I think at one point I was 1.2s slower than say what Lando had just done, so no answers at the moment.”
Ricciardo insisted that he hadn’t felt unhappy with the car during the weekend.
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
“Ultimately I think we’re still for some rear downforce, but even that, I feel like I’ve struggled more at previous races this year than even like the balance here.
“You always expect the car to be not perfect here, because it’s bumpy, it’s a street track, so I never felt I got too much in my head like, ‘The car’s terrible, I can’t drive it’.
“It can always be better, but again I felt there wasn’t anything fundamentally which felt… Again I crossed the line and I was like, ‘Maybe I’m a tenth or two off,’ but when I heard these gaps, that’s when I was like, ‘I don’t have an answer guys, I’m sorry.'”
Asked to elaborate on whether he thought there might be an issue with his car, he said: “I’ll certainly ask the question. I’m sure the team will do a dig and I don’t want to say that’s it or point the finger at the guys for not putting it together properly, but I’m sure we’ll give it a proper look.
“As I said, pretty much from Thursday from FP1, it was the same story. I may have taken a few steps forward, but I don’t know if I was ever within half a second, so it is a big margin.”
Ricciardo also played down the impact of differences in driving style between himself and Norris for the pace discrepancy.
“I mean there is still a little bit of a difference in driving style and things like a bit of braking technique and that, and again even if I’m not optimising the car, I would still say okay maybe I’m two tenths slower or three tenths slower.
“But the whole let’s say call it a second, I don’t know, it seems a lot. I’m not going to bury my head in the sand and be like, ‘Ah, fix it and I’m the best,’
“I still want to definitely work at it and I’m sure there is still things I can improve, but this weekend has been the biggest anomaly of them all so far.”