Daniel Ricciardo overcame a mid-afternoon gearbox issue to complete Friday's free practice at the Italian Grand Prix in 13th position, but confirmed that Red Bull would be up against it on a circuit that places a premium on power.
With Renault's main upgrade not coming until the Russian Grand Prix next month, Ricciardo and Red Bull have their work cut out at Monza, and the Australian's plight is not helped this weekend by the team's decision to make key engine changes that will likely send him to the back of the grid on Sunday afternoon.
Despite that, he continued to work through his prescribed programme throughout Friday's two 90-minute sessions, returning to the track late in the afternoon after it looked as if his day may be undone when he slowed on track.
“This morning was okay and then, this afternoon, we did not do as much running and were outside the top ten where we thought we'd probably be,” Ricciardo reported, “We will see what we can do in the race, [but] Saturday won't be too busy for us.”
The Australian confirmed that he expected the Mercedes cars to be out of reach in both qualifying and the race – especially the works machines which received uprated engines for the weekend – admitting that he just couldn't squeeze any more out of the existing Renault V6.
“Today we did the most that we could,” he conceded, “We lose quite a bit of time on the straights, so you are just driving and you can't push the pedal any harder. We know that we are going to lose some time there, so it is, for sure, the best place to take our (engine) penalties.
“We were focusing on race set-up knowing that we start from the back, so Sunday is going to be a lot more important for us. Maybe some rain will come, but Sunday looks dry. Mercedes we can't fight, and [challenging] anybody in a Mercedes powered car would be a good result for us.”
“We will just do what we can this week and see what happens in Singapore where we should be a lot stronger...”