Daniel Ricciardo believes that he lost the Singapore Grand Prix by qualifying sixth yesterday at the Marina Bay Street Circuit.
For the first time in his Aston Martin Red Bull Racing career, Ricciardo failed to finish on the podium in Singapore and finished where he started. Furthermore, whilst team-mate Max Verstappen finished an impressive drive in second, Ricciardo felt the negative effects of traffic and finished 53 seconds behind winner Lewis Hamilton.
Ricciardo led the race in the phase between the leaders pit stops and his own, Red Bull trying to overcome their unfavourable grid position by stretching the life of the hyper-soft tyres; 16 laps longer than Pirelli‘s projections. An aggressive strategy saw the Australian finish the race on 34-lap-old ultra-soft tyres.
“In the end, the race was a bit as we expected but we hoped for some sort of ultimate strategy,” said Ricciardo.
“We tried something different by going long on the hyper-soft and we had good pace but a street circuit is only really great if you are on pole, otherwise it’s not only hard to overtake but even to follow.
“Qualifying is so important here and the race was really lost yesterday.”
The Renault Sport Formula 1 Team-bound driver was caught up in a battle for fourth in the latter stages of the race with Scuderia Ferrari‘s Kimi Räikkönen and Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport‘s Valtteri Bottas. The Mercedes driver struggled in turbulence created by Nico Hülkenberg as the trio closed up to lap the German, but both Räikkönen and Ricciardo were subject to the same problems.
Ricciardo said that whilst he could catch Räikkönen, he did not have the pace or opportunities to get the move done quick enough, having to pull back in order regulate temperatures.
“I could catch Kimi, I would stay close to him for a couple of laps and then I would have to back-off,” the frustrated Australian added.
“I had the pace to get back on his gearbox but I was never quite close enough to make a move. I really had to hope for a mistake or that Kimi and Valtteri would start tangling and I could capitalise.”
“I got close at Turn 13 on the last lap, but it wasn’t close enough.”
Because of this, Ricciardo acknowledged Hamilton’s post-Monaco complaints regarding the difficulty of following traffic around street circuits, due to an extreme drop-off in aerodynamic performance exacerbated by the close walls.
“Street circuits are my favourite tracks to drive but they can also be frustrating,” he continued.
“In Monaco I listened to Lewis in seventh place complaining about following closely and now I understand what he was complaining about. I think everyone was in the same boat.
“I would have loved to fight for something more today but I couldn’t.”
Now mathematically out of contention for the Drivers’ Championship, Ricciardo said that Red Bull will move onto the Russian Grand Prix in two weeks’ time hoping for a surprise result.
“Last night we spent quite a few hours here trying to figure it all out and I hope in Russia everything will fall into place.
“We’ll keep fighting, try to get better and maybe we can get a win at a circuit where we don’t expect it.”
Ricciardo now stands 22 points behind team-mate Verstappen in the standings, but holds a 73 point advantage over seventh-placed man Hülkenberg.