It was a tough day on track for Infiniti Red Bull Racing at Austin, with both Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel suffering some kind of mechanical issue during Friday practice.
With Vettel’s penalty already confirmed for switching to a new power unit for this weekend, he did not go for qualifying runs, instead focusing on race runs, although Ricciardo showed good pace in the afternoon on his qualifying simulations.
Ricciardo sat out most of the first session with an ERS issue, but came back to finish fourth fastest in the afternoon despite finding conditions tricky with the wind playing havoc. He feels positive about the remainder of the weekend after ending up inside the top five.
“It was tricky out there today,” insisted Ricciardo. “The wind makes it difficult; it’s quite an open circuit, so any form of cross wind or tail wind upsets the car a lot – we saw a few spins in FP2 from a few guys. We got the car in a good window to work with and hopefully tomorrow we can find a bit more speed.
“We didn’t run much this morning but in FP2 we ended up in the top five and the long run looked reasonable, so I think we had a pretty good afternoon.”
Team-mate Vettel knew he would be starting from the pit lane before practice began, and did not make an attempt at a qualifying simulation unlike everyone else, instead concentrating on working on his race pace. He also had to wait while his mechanics changed his gearbox ahead of the second session.
“It was a different practice today, as we focused on Sunday preparation,” reflected Vettel. “We had an issue with the gearbox this morning so we lost some time, but overall it was okay. It’s not great knowing that you can’t go out and fully go for it in qualifying tomorrow, but we knew it from the start of this weekend, so we focus on the race and hopefully we will have a good come back from the pit lane on Sunday.”
Talking on Formula1.com, Vettel felt it would be difficult to make a charge through the field, and insisted an Abu Dhabi-style charge through the field like in 2012 is almost impossible.
“I do see the chance to move further to the front,” said Vettel. “But overtaking is not an easy task here from the track layout. Then add our top speed to that and it becomes clear that there will be no Abu Dhabi on Sunday.”