Daniel Ricciardo has said that he is prepared to go against the grain on strategy if it helps him move up the order in the Russian Grand Prix
The Australian, despite being hampered at one point by his right-hand mirror flapping in the cockpit, posted the sixth-fastest time in Q3, and will start from fifth on the grid after Sebastian Vettel takes his five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. However, with the Sochi race likely to boil down to a one-stop strategy, he knows that there may not be too much of an opportunity for strategy to play a part – unless Red Bull opts to try something a little different.
“Honestly, if I told you I would… not have to kill you but I would have to hurt you – and I don't want to do that,” Ricciardo joked with the media when asked what his gameplan may be, “In the past, for me, it has been better to come in early but, on the other extreme, if you can go really
long with the supersofts, maybe that can work well as well. It puts you in a better position if there is a safety car later in the race, so we will see. Of course, I am keen to try something, and we will try to do something.”
With both Vettel and Lewis Hamilton – the victim of engine problems in Q2 – lining up behind the Red Bull, Ricciardo knows that he could as easily lose places as make them up, and is targeting the Williams pair of fourth-placed Felipe Massa and front row starter Valtteri Bottas in order to gain ground.
“In terms of moving forward our target has
to be Williams,” he confirmed, “If Lewis starts tenth, I expect [him] to come through, and Vettel will be hard to keep off at some point. But, if we can sort of move forward past the Williams, I think that would be really good. I was pretty close to Felipe and it would've been nice to jump him of course, but we are there or thereabouts, and we can race Williams from there. That is our real target.
“How can it happen? If not on the start, as it is likely a one-stop here, you have to probably do something brave with strategy, either stop really late or really early. There is not much else you can do, so that is something we will look into, but obviously everyone else is trying to do the same and trying to find a little secret to make a one-stop that bit better than anyone else's.
“As we saw last year, we were able to get in front of them - I stayed in front of Bottas for longer than I thought - but then we eventually had the problem. If we can somehow get in front of them, then maybe we can keep them behind. If my mirror stays on, I will definitely use them to my advantage!”