Daniel Ricciardo put in a great effort during qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after putting himself third on the grid on Saturday behind Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
The Red Bull Racing driver improved his time to a 1:39.589 as the chequered flag fell to jump ahead of both Scuderia Ferrari drivers, with Ricciardo setting a time just 0.015 seconds faster than Kimi Raikkonen, although he was 0.834 seconds down on Hamilton at the front.
“I’m definitely pleased I got the third place I was after,” admitted Ricciardo. “It feels really good. This morning was hard, I did a run quite early and I was nearly a second off Max so it didn’t look good on paper but the track warmed up so much that we didn’t really know what to expect coming into quali.
“Q1 was a little bit slow but then I picked it up and Q3 was solid enough so I was happy.”
Ricciardo insists that although the two Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team drivers are fighting for the championship, he will take any opportunity that presents itself to interject himself into the battle for the race win, regardless of who it would affect on Sunday.
The Australian will also start the race on the Supersoft tyre after making it through Q2 on that tyre, with both Hamilton and Rosberg ahead of him on the Ultrasoft, and Ricciardo admits it was worth the gamble to try something different to his rivals.
“We’ll see about the strategy,” said Ricciardo. “It’s just nice to do something different to Mercedes. We know on the same equipment they’re probably going to be quicker so we feel it should make us go a little bit longer at the start and then perhaps we can bring the race back to us towards the end when our tyres might be a bit different.
“For tomorrow of course I wish I was in their position, obviously they’ve both got a little bit more pressure than us this weekend, which I’m kind of envious about. But if the win is there for me tomorrow then I’ll go for it and there will be no holding back.
“You always have this level of respect as they’re fighting for the title, but if they leave the door open and I think I can pass, then I won’t make it easy for them and let them sail into the sunset.”