Daniel Ricciardo says he hopes the nimbleness of the Red Bull package will go a long way to making up for its power deficit as he prepares to tackle the Baku City Circuit for the first time.
The inaugural F1 event to be held in the Azerbaijan capital city Baku, the venue has drawn plenty of attention for its unusual blend of narrow, slow sections coupled to a full throttle home stretch that totals more than 2km in length.
Causing some headaches for teams in terms of set-up as they attempt to balance between the disparate sections, the straight – as well as the lengthy second DRS zone between turns two and three – has prompted concern from Helmut Marko that Red Bull could be massively compromised this weekend.
However, while Marko predicts a deficit of 1.2secs to rivals on that section alone, Ricciardo is more optimistic, suggesting the twisting parts of the circuit will suit the RB12 package, even if he plays down the likelihood of challenging Mercedes or Ferrari.
“I hope he's wrong, that sounds like a lot,” he said. “I hope we don't lose that much but if we lose around that, let's say we lose a second we can make up a bit of time in the corners. On Mercedes, probably not that much, they've got a good car as well but also Ferrari it's probably minimal.
“On somebody like Williams we expect them to gain a bit on us down the straight but then in the corners I'm hoping our advantage takes over. 1.2 [seconds] is big, I hope Helmet is wrong.”
Though the circuit has raised concerns amongst some drivers, namely the lack of run-off in certain areas, Ricciardo is excited by its challenge.
“Turn eight part reminds me a bit of Macau. For me that reminds me of Macau and I like Macau a lot, so that's cool, very narrow. I would say that some of the layout, some of the kerbs and the apexes are a combination of Valencia and Singapore
“Other corners are completely unique, which is cool. It's always fun when you come to a new circuit, when you see that they are trying different things or different shapes of corners. It's a bit like Austin when they had these big wide apexes and that it's cool. It's nice that they are trying some unique things; that keeps it fresh for us.”