Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel had very different qualifying sessions at the Circuit of the Americas ahead of the United States Grand Prix. The Australian was able to qualify fifth, but Vettel’s session was compromised by the knowledge that wherever he qualified he would always be starting from the pit lane after his Infiniti Red Bull Racing mechanics had fitted a whole-new Renault power unit to his car.
Ricciardo was happy to finish the session in fifth, and believes he is in a battle with Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa for the final spot on the podium in the race. He is hoping for a clean fight but is wary of the Williams’ straight-line speed advantage.
”I’m pretty happy with the top five, realistically we’re fighting for the last spot on the podium, if Mercedes have a clean race, and we’ve put ourselves in a good position for that,” said Ricciardo. “We were close to Felipe, but hopefully the clean side of the grid will help me out a bit, so we’ll see what happens.
“I’d say we’re better on tyres than the Williams, but their straight-line speed makes that advantage disappear. Hopefully we’ll have some good clean battles on track tomorrow, the circuit certainly allows for that and provides some good opportunities, so hopefully we can have some fun!”
Team-mate Vettel did not make a serious attempt at qualifying due to the knowledge that he would be starting from the pit lane on Sunday, and was seventeenth in Q1, ahead of only the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. He hopes to be able to make progress through the field during the race, and is aiming for a solid points finish.
“It’s difficult to say where we are compared to the others teams, it doesn’t seem too bad, depending on the conditions which are currently good,” said Vettel. “In the race tomorrow I think we can move up, our race pace seems okay, but it will be tight.
“It will be difficult to overtake, as we don’t have the ideal straight-line speed, hopefully we can get some points tomorrow. Seventh would be a good result.”