26 September 2015
F1 Japanese Grand Prix: Ricciardo targets tyre life in Ferrari, Williams battle
Daniel Ricciardo admits that Red Bull's closest rivals may have a pace advantage at Suzuka, but hopes to be able to fight with them on strategy.
Daniel Ricciardo believes that he can remain in the fight with Ferrari and Williams if his Red Bull can make its tyres last longer in the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Australian qualified seventh for the race at Suzuka, roughly where he expected to be, but reckons that raceday could be a different matter if the RB11 proves to be kinder to its rubber.
“Sure, Ferrari and Williams are going to be pretty close, but I have a feeling we'll use our tyres better than them, so we can put ourselves in the fight through strategy,” he insisted, “Otherwise, I'll be running around, doing my best to tag onto the back of them…
“I think tyre temperatures are going to be the biggest challenge for everyone, probably not wear but keeping the temps down in the tyre. It's not an easy thing to do, especially around here where you've got so many corners one after the other. You can only keep them so low, but the way I feel with the car, the chassis, I feel it is underneath me and, for that, I should have more feeling on the long runs and, hopefully, a bit more ability to save the tyres than perhaps some of the others.
“We'll see – we also have a bit more pace to make up with that as well, so I've got to try and still be fast while doing it. I think it's going to rain overnight and, if it does, I think we'll be back to where we were this morning. If [the track is] green, I think we're going to slide a bit more and that's going to create tyre temp challenges, so it'll be fun.”
Despite being up on his previous time on his final run in Q3, Ricciardo fell foul of the red flag that followed team-mate Daniil Kvyat's monstrous shunt heading into the hairpin and he had to settle for the seventh spot that his earlier lap had given him. As usual, the Aussie was phlegmatic about his position
“We hoped Singapore would last but, if I'd had to put money on it, I would have bet on [Mercedes] being first and second, so there's no real surprise there,” he smiled, “I thought Ferrari would have been ahead of Williams though, so that's probably a bit more of a surprise – I thought we would have been fighting with Williams...
“I knew top seven was sort of a sure thing, but I'd hoped for top five. In saying that, I think the lap and the session went quite well and I don't think we left much on the table. Without the red flag, I think we were up about a tenth-and-a-half and I could have ended the lap two-tenths up, but the other guys would probably have found a bit as well, so it probably wouldn't have changed that much. I guess the other guys are happy with their cars as well – I was happy but, if they're happy and have more legs down the straight, then they're going to be quicker than us.”
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