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F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Ricciardo aims to be joker in the pack

Daniel Ricciardo has backed Red Bull's decision to start on the alternative super-soft tyres and hopes it can bring him towards the Mercedes pair.
Click here for full Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying results

Daniel Ricciardo has backed his Red Bull team's decision to opt to start on the alternative super-soft tyres and hopes it can help bring him towards the Mercedes pair as the race wears on in Abu Dhabi.

The Red Bull driver has secured third place on the grid for the 2016 season finale – leapfrogging both Ferraris and team-mate Max Verstappen – and will start the Abu Dhabi race on the red-banded super-softs contrasting those around him on the ultra-softs.

Ricciardo feels the alternate strategy is worth a gamble as he looks to catch the Mercedes pair ahead having gained confidence from his Friday practice long runs, as the Australia driver could play a pivotal role in the destination of the 2016 F1 world title.

“We've got to try something. It seems to be a bit of a trend this year: if we are in a position to qualify on a different tyres, then we'll try and see if it gives us an opportunity,” Ricciardo said. “Hopefully it puts us in the fight.”

“Beyond that I think Q3 was good. It was a pretty slow-starting qualifying session for me but we sort of chipped away at it and then in Q3 when it matters I felt like I had put in some good times. Third was the target, hopefully we can be somewhere up here as well tomorrow.

“I think as predicted, Mercedes would pull a little bit more on us today in qualifying but we'll see how the race comes back to us. I think that's why we wanted to do something a little bit different as well and try the supersoft. Might just give us a bit more range at the start and then might put us more in the race towards the end.”

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Echoing his Red Bull team-mate's sentiments from Friday, Ricciardo wants to have some fun in the 2016 finale with little left to play for having already secured third place in the F1 drivers' championship.

“I think it's going to be fun tomorrow,” he said. “There's the title on the line with these guys [Hamilton and Rosberg], so it's going to be interesting. Hopefully it's fun throughout the pack and we can do something to make it even more exciting than it already is.”

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Kimi Raikkonen tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
Lewis Hamilton tests the 2017 F1 tyres in Abu Dhabi [credit: Pirelli]
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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Pirelli 2017 tyre test [Credit: Pirelli]
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27.11.2016 - Race, Celebration, 2nd place Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid and Champion 2016 and Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W07 Hybrid race winner

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