Daniel Ricciardo admitted to a difficult opening day at the Hungarian Grand Prix as he struggled to find the pace to rise above seventh on the practice timesheets.
While team-mate Sebastian Vettel – who has more often than not had to play second fiddle to his new colleague this year – claimed third place for Red Bull, behind the two Mercedes drivers, Ricciardo confessed that he could not find the right set-up to drag pace from his RB10.
“It was challenging, and I don't think we found too many positives for today,” he sighed, “I think we'll find some tonight as, obviously, Seb had a better day, but, on my side, we struggled a bit. We tried to find the pace but it wasn't there today, so we'll have a look tonight and see how we go for tomorrow. We went around in circles today, but didn't find too much.”
Having overcome a battery problem that cost him 'pretty much the last 20 minutes' of the morning session, Ricciardo found himself mixing it with McLaren, Ferrari and Williams drivers in the battle for position when the softer Pirellis were bolted on during the afternoon.
“Realistically, as they showed today, Mercedes were quick again - unfortunately quicker than we had hoped,” he acknowledged, “For second [place], at this stage, I'd say Ferrari is the closest of our rivals
“We've got to find a bit more pace for P3, just try and find something for the morning and get ourselves better for qualifying. At the moment, we're a long way off where we need to be. I think we should be [capable of] fighting for the second row, so let's see how we go.
With the Hungaroring, and the searing temperatures seen in practice, likely to make Sunday's race a trial for tyres, Ricciardo admitted that there was probably more flexibility to try and go for an alternative gameplan.
“I think there's got to be a bit going on [with strategy],” he confirmed, “Three stops for the race is a likely one so, the more stops you have, the more options you have of doing one less or whatever.
“Hopefully, we don't have to re-invent the strategy because we don't have the pace on track. Hopefully, we find the pace and just do what we need to do to get a good position.”