Daniel Ricciardo felt positive after Friday’s running at the Sochi Autodrom, with the Australian ending the day with the fourth fastest time for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.
The twenty-nine-year-old missed a portion of the morning session as a precaution as his mechanics investigated a potential problem on board his RB14, but Ricciardo returned to the track in the afternoon, finishing just behind team-mate Max Verstappen and 0.459 seconds off the pace of Lewis Hamilton up front.
“The car felt good today and I really enjoyed driving,” said Ricciardo. “The circuit was actually good fun and we had pretty good pace.
“Because you don’t have any banking to give you extra grip on the corners, coming here with the Hypersoft gives you the grip you need, which made it more enjoyable.”
Like Verstappen, Ricciardo heads into the rest of the weekend knowing that he will take a grid penalty in Sochi, so it was pleasing to get a feel of how difficult overtaking may be on Sunday during practice after running in traffic.
“We got some traffic on the long runs this afternoon which gave us some feeling of how it will be in the race,” said the Australian. “It’s not the easiest track to overtake on, but we eventually got it done, so I think the race should be pretty entertaining.
“There isn’t much use in us doing the full qualifying tomorrow due to the penalties, but we will see how we go after FP3 and decide what to do then. We did plenty of running this afternoon and I know we have some good data from that.”
Ricciardo hopes there is some tyre degradation this weekend, so the race will not be an almost certain one-stopper. However, he knows there is still work to be done to ensure they can make gains on Sunday from the back of the field around a circuit that has never really played into Red Bull’s strengths.
“I’m happy to see there is some tyre degradation, if it’s an easy one-stop race it could be a bit predictable, so I’m hoping it could be a two-stop to make it more exciting,” said Ricciardo.
“It will be important to do another long run in FP3 and prepare fully for the race. Russia has never been our strongest circuit but today there are some good signs.”