Daniel Ricciardo said it was always the plan to do only a single run in Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday thanks to the grid penalties that were already coming his way thanks to the engine change he made on Friday.
The Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver’s solitary lap was enough for him to advance to Q2 but he did not return to the track again thereafter. He admitted he would only have had done so had he been a contender for pole position, but with Scuderia Ferrari and Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport being so much faster this weekend, it was never going to be an option.
“We will be starting on the back or second to back row tomorrow, so we decided that putting more miles on the new engine wasn’t worth risking,” said Ricciardo. “If we thought we had the chance of setting a pole time, even with the penalties, then maybe we would have risked finishing Qualifying but the Ferraris and Mercs are too quick.
“I did one lap to get through Q1 and the new engine seemed to be running pretty well. One lap was fun, I would have loved more but this was always the plan.”
Ricciardo says Red Bull has taken as much downforce as they can from the car to make the RB14 as fast as it can be in a straight-line, which he hopes will benefit his charge through the field on Sunday, and he has been enjoying the track conditions this weekend.
“This morning we weren’t that quick but we made some changes which seemed to work for this afternoon,” said the Australian. “The lap I did was encouraging and having done that lap I have more confidence going into the race tomorrow, we have a better set-up and it should be fun.
“The car is as slippery as we can make it for the race, unless we took the rear wing off completely, which I guess is illegal, we couldn’t do anymore! We’re as fast in a straight line as we can be at the moment which should serve me well in the race.
“It’s amazing to see how grippy the circuit is right now. I think because there isn’t much wind and it’s quite cool, even with no downforce on our car, the corner speeds are pretty high which is why the times are so quick. The conditions are really nice to drive in too.”
Ricciardo feels it will not matter what tyre he starts on as they all seem to have similar performance, but he is determined to do what he did twelve months ago from the back of the field, which was to climb up the field to finish well inside the points.
“I don’t think it matters which tyre we start on tomorrow because the compounds are very similar,” said Ricciardo. “We will come through the field, brake late and hopefully finish up with some good points.”