Daniel Ricciardo is optimistic a strong start in the Belgian Grand Prix will give Red Bull Racing a good chance against its faster rivals in race conditions after qualifying a distant sixth.

The Australian has struggled to match the leading pair of Ferrari and Mercedes throughout the Spa-Francorchamps weekend, as well as his team-mate Max Verstappen, who would go on to qualify five tenths quicker in fifth.

Attributing some of the margin to losing good track time on Friday due to going the wrong way on an aggressive set-up, Ricciardo feels Red Bull are in better shape over a race distance, particularly if he can get a good start.

“It is certainly not fun being out of the race on the first lap,” Ricciardo – who collided with team-mate Verstappen on lap one in Hungary, said. “Turn 1 is pretty interesting here. So I see some racy people around me. But I will be smart but also it is maybe an opportunity to get in front of a faster car.

“Last year we capitalised on the start, and we had good pace in clean air, so we held off the others. So I will go for it but as always I don’t feel I am reckless anyway so I will just take my normal approach.”

With the RB13 showing impressive pace in the more chassis-dependent middle sector, Ricciardo admits it is frustrating to lose a lot of that advantage on the straights but says there are good compromises too.

“If our second sector was really strong we could probably say that, but it will only make me slower in second sector and probably used the tyres more, so we are in a … it is the best we can do. It would be nice if we were quick on the straights but it would hurt us even more in the second sector. So probably lose too much ground to even catch back up in the third sector.”

 

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