RESULTS: Malaysian Grand Prix – Qualifying results
Daniel Ricciardo says he can be encouraged by the relatively marginal gap to Mercedes following qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix given the strength of the factory team's engine in qualifying trim.
Though Red Bull has taken the fight to Mercedes at times in race conditions this year, the German manufacturer's ability to 'turn up' it engine during qualifying has often given it the edge on all but the lower speed venues.
Even so, Max Verstappen would get to within half-a-second of Lewis Hamilton's pole time to qualify third, a stark contrast to the Red Bull results at Sepang in April 2015 when it finished the race a full lap down.
With this in mind, Ricciardo – who qualified fourth – feels Red Bull can be satisfied to be in range of Mercedes and ahead of Ferrari in the circumstances.
HIRED & FIRED: Even Sam Allardyce lasted longer than some of these F1 teams and drivers…
“I'd like to think [turning up the Mercedes engine] that is a good part of [the gap] it, yea,” he said. “They do seem to be able to get more, so if they are more restricted tomorrow, maybe our race pace could be competitive with Mercedes. Let's see; I'd obviously love to target them. For now we will try to keep ahead of Ferrari, but if they are not too far in front of us tomorrow then yeah we will try keep closing the gap.
“I didn't expect both of us to be ahead of Ferrari in qualifying, they looked stronger and especially from my side I needed to find quite a big improvement from my feeling with the car, so we found that.”
Despite losing out to Verstappen, Ricciardo says he was otherwise pleased with his lap and remains confident the pair will be evenly-matched in the race.
“I don't think I went my best last sector on that last lap, but it wasn't really any mistakes it was just I got a bit more out of the tires in the first part of the lap and then they weren't quite there in the last couple of corners. So just struggled for a bit of traction the last two, and I could just see compared to my lap time I was just losing a bit on the exits, so that was sort of a compromise which I went for.
“I think (compared) to where I was yesterday I am pretty happy. We made quite a few changes over night and they definitely helped me out today. I was a lot more comfortable, so looking ahead to the race that will be good thing, so it is going to be a good one with myself, Max and I expect the Ferraris to have good pace as well. So a good fight for the podium.
WHERE & WHEN can you watch the Malaysian Grand Prix
Latest Tweets from Crash.net & GPF1rst