After qualifying P5 and over a second off of Valtteri Bottas' pole lap for Mercedes, Daniel Ricciardo says starting on soft tyres he’ll run a one-stop race as it is the best option for Red Bull.

Ricciardo has entered qualifying with a 10-place grid penalty for an MGU-H component change and thanks to Brendon Hartley’s grid drops the Australian driver will start from P14 in Brazil. Having seen Red Bull drop off the pace of Mercedes and Ferrari in qualifying, Ricciardo is hoping for a return to form on race day.

“Normally our Saturdays are better than our Fridays, but lately our Fridays have been better than our Saturdays, so it is still a bit of a mystery,” Ricciardo said. “We know Mercedes have a good qualifying mode and are always going to be strong on Saturday, but we don’t, so for a few times we have not been able to make that step.

With a short lap in Brazil activating the tyres is essential – a task made extremely difficult by changeable conditions – and something Ricciardo said Red Bull had mixed success with.

“It seems like when we are looking for those few more tenths when the track ramps up, we don’t have it. It kind of felt that the soft was better for me. I wish I would have had more sets in Q3 and left the super soft at home.”

Track temperature varied by 23C between the start of FP2 and FP3, as well as potential moisture from overnight rain making kerbs unpredictable. Ricciardo only allowed four sets of soft tyres but said super softs were not delivering the same results.

“In qualifying the soft was not too bad relatively. Balance and all that for how the soft normally handles and feels. I was pretty happy. But then the super soft really didn’t feel any different.

“Normally from a soft to a super soft you gain front grip because the tyres has a lower temperature working range, so the super soft is easy to get the bite. But if anything that was my problem with the super soft.

“I had less on the front so it was frustrating. I just sat with the engineers and we are looking at it. We had a pretty big vibration on the second set of super softs in Q3 from when we left the pits. Why we don’t know.

“That seems to have made the tyre run hot, the front left in particular. We have an explanation for that run, but the first run in Q3 we were just slow and not sure why. We will keep looking. I start on the soft, that is a positive.”


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