Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen believe pole position will prove “a bit of a stretch” for the Red Bull Formula 1 team during qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Valtteri Bottas headed a close Mercedes 1-2 in second practice as he set the pace on Friday, with the quickest Red Bull of Ricciardo 0.318s adrift in fourth place.

Mexican GP polesitter Ricciardo, who will be hit with a five-place grid penalty for a turbo change in his RB14 following his latest retirement, is convinced the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari will prove too big to overcome in qualifying.

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“Pole is probably a bit of a stretch in these conditions. I think this afternoon we had a decent car and we are three tenths off so it’s a bit much,” Ricciardo said.

“It’s likely that the others will turn [it] up tomorrow, so pole is probably a bit of a stretch but the race pace seemed solid.

“All three tyres don’t seem that bad to start the race on so we will try to do something different on Sunday.”

Teammate Verstappen topped the timesheets in opening practice but saw his FP2 running restricted by an oil leak that kept him sidelined in the Red Bull garage for the majority of the session.

While the Mexican Grand Prix winner feels the result from second practice was “not the real picture”, he agreed with Ricciardo that challenging for pole is not a realistic target.

“Straight away I was actually quite happy with the car, I think that showed in the first practice that we had a good car balance,” he explained.

“It’s just a shame in second practice that I missed the beginning - then you are a bit out of sync and you have to go a little bit through your programme and I had traffic on my Supersoft run, which is not ideal.

“But anyway I don’t think we are going to fight for pole position. As soon as they open their engines in Q3 we are struggling.

“The car is in a good window and in the long runs I’m quite happy. There are a few things to improve but I am quite confident that we can fix that.”

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