- Belgian GP - Qualifying
Set-up puts Red Bull in strong position - Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo expects Red Bull to match the pace of its rivals at the Belgian Grand Prix after opting for a low-downforce set-up geared towards the race rather than qualifying.
Ricciardo qualified fifth despite making a mistake at Blanchimont in Q3 while team-mate Vettel claimed third, an impressive return considering the team's set-up was compromised further by the wet conditions throughout qualifying. After taking its single permitted gear ratios change ahead of the weekend Red Bull appeared to be quickest through the speed trap during practice and qualifying, something Ricciardo thinks puts Red Bull in a strong position for the race.
"Expecting more? Probably not," Ricciardo said. "You always hope for more but realistically we are set up for a dry race. Even though we're typically quite strong in the wet we knew that with the set-up we have chosen to go with it would bring us back down to the level of some of the guys around us, so I think top five was a good result for us.
"For the team to be third and fifth was really good. As you saw Mercedes was too far in front so we can't get too excited but looking at grid positions alone it's a good place for us to be. Third is what I'll aim for and if Mercedes decides to give us a chance then I'll take more but I think third is what we'll target. Realistically I think Seb, Fernando, me, Valtteri, there's a few of us who can fight for that third place and I think it'll be a good battle to watch. Hopefully there is a battle and we'll have a good fight."
Despite looking stronger on the straights Ricciardo thinks Mercedes' form in practice shows they could be tough to beat.
"The gap to Mercedes was pretty big. We thought we would be able to close it up a bit in the wet, especially early on in the [qualifying] session when I was about 2.10 or 2.09 and they were like 2.06, it was seriously quick straight away. It hurts a little bit but it's alright! An explanation for now is that we've banked a little bit on a dry race, so we've set the car up a little bit more for that. In a nutshell we've taken downforce off it but in race conditions it should be the right call and that's why we've done it.
"The option [run in practice] was really strange from Mercedes. Maybe they put in 100KG of fuel because their lap time on the prime was really impressive, and that was when the first turn was still a bit damp. I think they could do the whole race on prime and still be quicker. We'll see, obviously you keep your fingers crossed that they have some tyre degradation problems or something."