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But di Resta’s joy was short-lived. His car was found by the FIA to be underweight and he was excluded from qualifying. He will start at the back of the grid. Ricciardo moves up to 5th as a result.

The strong showing by Ricciardo could help the Australian in his bid to replace countryman Webber at Red Bull. Webber is leaving F1 at the end of the season. The team said on Friday it will look at Raikkonen, Ricciardo and the other Toro Rosso driver, Jean-Eric Vergne, as a replacement. Vettel came from Toro Rosso, which is also owned by Red Bull.

“Coming off the back of a bad couple of races, I expected to be strong here and I was more motivated than ever,” Ricciardo said. “However, if I’d been told I could be sixth this afternoon, I would have been surprised. We were very close to Di Resta in fifth, but we can be happy with this position.”

Raikkonen will start eighth and Alonso ninth, his worst place on the grid this year.

“We can consider this the worst Saturday of the season so far, having never finished so far down,” Alonso said. “But now we must react immediately to try and return to the form we showed at the start of the year. We definitely expected a lot more here, because this is a track that suits our car’s characteristics better than others.”

Raikkonen also said his team has work to do.

“It’s not ideal, but it is what it is,” Raikkonen said. “We’ll go into the race wanting to get a better result than we did in qualifying. Usually this is what happens for us and hopefully that is the case again tomorrow.”

It was also disappointing qualifying for Button, whose McLaren team has all but given up on challenging for the drivers’ championship this season. The 2009 champion just missed out on Q3 by 0.05 seconds and will start 10th while Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, who crashed in practice on Friday, settled for 11th.