Daniel Ricciardo conceded that Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen had done a good job to qualifying on the front row in front of hordes of Dutch fans at the Belgian Grand Prix, but insisted that might have the better gameplan for raceday.
The Australian will line up four places behind Verstappen, having been bumped from row two by late improvements from the Ferrari drivers, but believes that having conducted his Q2 run on the soft compound Pirelli was the better long-term approach. Verstappen preferred the supersoft, which most drivers concur won't last long if the weekend's hot temperatures continue, and was the anomaly amongst the leading runners.
RESULTS: Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying results
“Max wanted the super softs to start the race, and I wanted the softs, so it was easy,” Ricciardo revealed, “The team talked about maybe doing two different strategies, and then they asked us what we wanted to do, and we both wanted to do different strategies, so it's a good scenario for us.
“Obviously, Max thinks his one will work, and I think mine will work. Rosberg and both Ferraris think the soft is the better tyre to start the race, and I just think the supersoft is a bit more inconclusive. It can
work but, if it doesn't, it can lose you quite a bit of lap time. There is some blistering and some things happening with the tyres, which you can't quite predict so, for me, the soft was a little bit of a safer option.”
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Ricciardo also admitted to spoiling his first run in Q3, when everyone switched to the more fragile supersoft to go for grid position.
“The first lap in Q3, I messed up turn one and lost a bit there,” he explained, “The rest of the lap was okay, but it is not nice when you mess up, especially on a long lap, at the first corner.
“The last run in Q3 was actually a pretty good lap, but it looked like the wind changed. We lost quite a bit of time on the straight and, in the second sector, I thought I was doing quite well compared to my delta, my lap time from the lap before. I didn't actually gain that much and I was a bit confused because I felt
a lot quicker.
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“I am not convinced that the track was better on that second run, but I am not that disappointed with qualifying. I'd be more disappointed if I didn't make the softs work in Q2 because we just got through with that. Of course, something better than fifth would have been nice, but fifth is still… if we are quick [in the race], we can definitely do something from there. It is where I started two years ago [when he won], so it can work if you are quick enough. I definitely believe that we will fight for the podium. Absolutely.”
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