Daniel Ricciardo struggled to find personal high points from the Brazilian Grand Prix after an aggressive tyre strategy failed to live up to expectations.
Despite posting the ninth-best time in qualifying, the Australian was forced to start from the back row after opting to take the latest-spec Renault engine ahead of the trip to Interlagos, and was banking on a two-stop strategy to catapult himself up the order. However, having shed the soft Pirellis that he qualified on within the first few laps, Red Bull found that it could not make the harder mediums last long enough to complete the gameplan.
“We made up some positions in the first three laps and then we went for an aggressive first stop but, when we put the prime on, we didn't really have the tyre life we thought we would,” Ricciardo confirmed, “We planned to be aggressive and the option wasn't lasting that long, so I knew that getting to the end on two [sets of] primes was going to be hard, but we had to try it. I thought we would have got closer but, after 15 laps on the prime, I knew we weren't going to make it.
“The team changed strategy and that put us in that pack with a few other guys battling towards the end. I was able to get [Sergio] Perez but the others I just wasn't able to make an imprint on.”
Indeed, the battle with the Force India driver would provide the stand-out moments of the afternoon for Ricciardo, who had to pass Perez twice in the second half as their respective strategies unfolded.
“We had pretty similar pace to the cars around us so we didn't have a big advantage to capitalise on,” he conceded, “We had to wait for Perez to have tyre deg and then we could attack him. It was a bit of fun while it lasted but, otherwise, not the most exciting of races.
“I had a nice battle with Sergio for a few laps and had to get around him twice, so that kept me excited. Overtaking is possible into turn one but, after that, it's quite tight and the pace of everyone was quite similar, so it was hard. I enjoyed parts of it – the battle with Perez was good fun and the first few laps, coming through the field, was fun too – but otherwise I was just trying to manage a pace to do a two-stop, but it just wasn't happening today.”
Having been a frontrunner, and racewinner, in 2014, Ricciardo and Red Bull have been hamstrung by an impotent Renault V6 this season, but the Australian is hoping this turn around again over the winter.
“Last year was pretty pimpin', but this year has been a little more stagnant,” he sighed, “Hopefully, next year, the races will be a bit more exciting for the drivers and the fans – the same three people on the podium all the time is a little bit boring! I think everyone wants to see a bit of a change.”