25 September 2015
F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Ricciardo aiming for top five pace at Suzuka
Despite sitting out much of morning practice, Daniel Ricciardo reckons he can be pushing the F1 frontrunners when the Japanese Grand Prix weekend resumes with a hectic Saturday session.
Daniel Ricciardo believes that he should be able to push his Red Bull in amongst the top five runners when practice and qualifying get underway at the Japanese Grand Prix, despite limiting his involvement on day one at Suzuka.
The Australian, fresh off a runners-up finish in Singapore that saw him out-class everyone bar race winner Sebastian Vettel, completed only one lap in the morning session as rain ensured that the Suzuka circuit remained too wet for meaningful preparation.
With conditions improving slightly after the lunch break, and a drying line appearing before the rain returned mid-session, Ricciardo put together a more complete programme, but admitted that Saturday morning's FP3 would be crucial to following through on his prediction.
“We have to work pretty efficiently tomorrow to get the car set up because we are not going to have much time to do it,” he pointed out, “We should be there among the top five, and we should have the pace on Williams, but we will see. We need to make sure we start with the right car because we won't have much time to change the balance once we get going.”
Friday's comparative lack of running will leave Red Bull guessing slightly when it comes to prepping Ricciardo's mount for day two, but the Australian – who finished fourth-fastest in FP2 - remains optimistic that all will be well.
“The car was good in the wet here, as we showed last year, so that it positive, but Saturday is going to be a different story,” he admitted, “If it is dry, it is going to be a very busy session, but it has to be very efficient, so we will be smart about the way we work and prepare ourselves well.
“We are not going to get much time to prepare the car for the dry conditions. Once we get going, the day is going to go so quick, so we need to be smart tonight [with] which way we go, and then we have to stick with it and hope that it is the right decision.”
Like several of his rivals, Ricciardo opted to limit his early running, not only to manage engine life, but also to keep some wet-weather tyres back should the weekend forecast prove wide of the mark.
“It was difficult to get temperature into tyres because we didn't do many long runs but, otherwise, not much else happened today,” he reported, “You don't get many wet tyres for the weekend, so you never know. If it rains tomorrow… We just did a few laps and otherwise prepared the car for the dry because I think it will be dry for qualifying and the race.”
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