Daniel Ricciardo says he’s part of “the group of favourites” ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after topping Friday practice in Baku.

The Red Bull driver’s 1m 42.795s handed him top spot in FP2 less than one-tenth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen for Ferrari while also displaying promising long run pace alongside his teammate Max Verstappen and the Finn.

Fresh from his dramatic victory in China Ricciardo feels comfortable with the set up and balance with his RB14, with particular focus in the tight and twisty sector two around the Baku City Circuit, but doesn’t see himself as a sole favourite for victory this weekend.

“I think there are a few of us who are going to be close. I certainly feel like I’m up there,” Ricciardo said. “In qualifying I’m not sure how much the others can go quicker, but I think even if we don’t say qualify front row we’ll still have a very strong race car. We’re still in the group of favourites.

I feel like I’m driving good. I felt comfortable out there. That’s the important thing with a street circuit. You want that comfort. Didn’t really have any scares today. The balance was pretty normal, pretty good.

“Generally it’s a low grip circuit so you never want to expect a perfect car here. For the conditions, I was pretty happy with it. We’ll just roll on with this tomorrow and Sunday.”

Ricciardo says he hopes to use Red Bull’s pace advantage around the second sector to confirm an edge on his rivals and teammate Verstappen, who struggled during Friday practice after a crash at Turn 8 midway through FP1, and is relishing the chance to take back-to-back wins for the first time since 2014.

“Our car in the tight stuff is really good. Sector two, I’ve felt comfortable all day,” he said. “That was really strong for us. As always in qualifying, I think the others will turn it up a bit more.

“I think we’ll probably lose out a bit more in sector one and three tomorrow. Sector two will be key for us.

“The only thing that is going to make the car feel worse is the wind. It gets pretty aggressive over the next two days. But it’s the same for everyone. So otherwise, we’ll just stay cool and hopefully be up there all weekend.”

 

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