MARINA BAY, Singapore — Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull’s long-run pace in Singapore is better than both Mercedes and Ferrari’s but he stressed it will count for little should the team qualify outside the top two rows on the grid.
Ricciardo topped the afternoon session at Marina Bay with a lap of 1:39.711 but when times began to quicken up in the evening, Red Bull fell off the pace and eventually finished half a second shy of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton who were split at the top of the timesheets by just 0.01s.
However, Red Bull did show impressive signs during its race simulations in the second half of FP2 and Ricciardo feels he could be firmly in the hunt on Sunday if a few gains can be made with its qualifying setup.
“On the [soft and super-soft] tyres we are looking as good or better than everyone but, honestly, if we don’t qualify in the top two or three it’s probably not that important,” Ricciardo said. “Qualifying is nearly as important here as in Monaco so a little bit of work to do for tomorrow.
“I think the morning session went better than this evening’s one, just a bit more comfortable with the car. I mean taking the lap times out, we were more comfortable this morning with a hotter track, which is a bit weird.
“I think we can find a good balance for the evening — obviously that’s when qualifying takes place — so it’s important to learn from today. I think we know where we stand and I think we are going to be alright.”
Ricciardo has finished on the podium in the last four editions of the Singapore Grand Prix, including a hattrick of second places from 2015-17. When asked what he needs to do in order to break through with a victory, the Australian said it’s out of his hands.
“All I can do is hope. I have prepared well and the team has brought a pretty good car here,” Ricciardo said. “A good start would have helped me last year and for sure the front row is key. That’s the plan.
“Ready to go for the rest of the weekend and I think tomorrow is going to be very close. All three teams can be fast around here.”