Daniel Ricciardo says despite the mishaps in the past two races he never expected to be in the frame for the F1 world championship and although he prefers to play down his chances his opinion could be swayed with a strong result in Canada.
The Red Bull driver currently sits third in the F1 drivers' championship behind the Mercedes duo and has been the most consistent performer in 2016 after failing to score points in only one race this year [11th place in Russia].
After his opportunity for points at Sochi was taken largely out of his control, while also suffering a puncture in China and two strategy errors in Spain and Monaco, Ricciardo would almost certainly have one race win to his name and a handful of rostrums rather than just the solitary second place.
Ricciardo says he and Red Bull have certainly exceeded any predicts in the opening third of the year which has made the Australia rethink his chances of a title charge.
However, he has stressed a power-dependent track like Circuit Gilles Villeneuve this weekend could be a key dictator for his chances for the rest of the season.
“Coming into the season, I probably didn't expect to be third in the championship after so many races in and we've seen no points in Russia, could have got more in China without the puncture and the last two races,” Ricciardo said. “We could probably be very close to the front of the championship right now.
“I'm still not looking at that yet. I would love to be in a position in a few races time and actually say 'yes, we can fight for the title this year'. I think that would be a pretty nice, unexpected, fight and story for F1.”
Looking to banish the painful memories of last time out in Monaco when he saw victory snatched away from him by a Red Bull pit stop blunder, Ricciardo hopes the errors will be eliminated and he can be competitive around a circuit which should not play to his car's strengths.
“This race will be pretty telling,” he said. “If we can be competitive here, you never know. It's still a long shot. I believe in myself that I can fight and do what I've got to do to put myself in a position come the end of the year.
“Fingers crossed that last time in Monaco wasn't a one-off and we can fight again for the rest of the season. I believe that we can. Whether it's a win or a podium, to be continued.”
Ricciardo will look to demonstrate the updated Renault power unit's full potential at the high speed Canadian circuit after debuting it around the tight and twisty Monaco street track. The Australian grabbed pole position in Monaco and when dialled in the Red Bull has been a match to the likes of Ferrari and Mercedes.