Daniel Ricciardo doubts he can get any more pace out of his Red Bull at German GP
Aussie reckons there could be more to come from Mercedes, however
By Mike Wise at Hockenheim
Last Updated: 18/07/14 5:44pm
Daniel Ricciardo has downplayed his pace in Friday practice at the German Grand Prix and said it could well be the closest he and Red Bull get to Mercedes this weekend.
The Australian lapped within a tenth of a second of the Silver Arrows of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on Friday afternoon, placing him third fastest overall and raising the prospect that the World Champions might have closed the gap to the runaway championship leaders.
Yet there was a feeling after practice that Mercedes had yet to put the W05 fully through its paces and Ricciardo suggested that Red Bull might have shown their hand too early.
“To be honest, today I think we had a good car. Unlike other Fridays, I don’t think we’ve got half a second in the car; I think we’ve extracted pretty much all of it today,” he said. “Let’s see. Maybe the track will keep evolving and help us out tomorrow but today I think the pure pace we have is quite representative to our performance.
“Hopefully that was Mercedes’ best pace as well and then we can have a fight on our hands."
Ahead of Saturday’s final practice and qualifying sessions, he added: “I think tomorrow’s the important one. They’ve done it before this year; they’ve come into qualifying and pulled half a second on everyone else. Let’s see how we go.”
Both of Friday’s sessions were held in sweltering conditions, with temperatures during the afternoon nudging as high as 33 degrees Celsius.
The track temperature, meanwhile, reached 58 degrees with Ricciardo acknowledging the knock-on effect the conditions had on tyres – Pirelli having brought its two softest compounds to the race.
Asked about the supersoft, Ricciardo replied: “For one lap it’s okay. The track was really hot today, so it was pushing the tyre. But for one lap it was holding up.
“The long runs were more aggressive on tyre wear. I think this weekend will be more so than Silverstone. We’re not going to see any one stops; I think two or three will definitely be possible.”
Although heatwave conditions are again forecast for Saturday, the threat of rain hangs in the air for the race itself, with Ricciardo preparing for all eventualities.
“The podium is always my target now,” the Canadian GP winner said. “It’s going to be up to tyre wear and weather this weekend. On Sunday, it looks like there could be a storm coming, so we’ll see.
“It’s about being smart and trying to hang on.”
Ricciardo also played down the impact losing FRIC suspension – now effectively outlawed by the FIA – has had at Red Bull.
“Not much,” he added. “It changes the ride height a little bit, there’s maybe a little bit more underneath you and the kerbs and bumps are a bit more pronounced. But in terms of balance and stuff it feels alright. Not really a big difference.”
Watch the 2014 German GP live only on Sky Sports F1. Extensive coverage from Hockenheim continues with Qualifying from 12 noon on Saturday.