Daniel Ricciardo says he shouldn’t feel ‘naïve’ over Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Scuderia Ferrari‘s lack of pace in Friday Free Practice for the Mexican Grand Prix.
Both Aston Martin Red Bull Racing cars topped of Max Verstappen and Ricciardo topped both Friday sessions, alongside both Renault Sport Formula One Team drivers of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hülkenberg.
Mercedes and Ferrari struggled to find pace on Friday and were slower than both of the Renault powered cars, finding it difficult to get the Hypersoft tyres working as the hot track destroyed the tyres in only a handful of laps.
Ricciardo said the car performs well under low fuel, which could bring Red Bull in the hunt for pole position, but admits that he shouldn’t feel naïve about Mercedes and Ferrari’s lack of Friday pace and will turn the engine up on Saturday.
“Our car worked really well on low fuel runs in both sessions today which should put us in a good position for qualifying, but I don’t want to be naïve as I’m sure Mercedes and Ferrari will turn it up and give us a push tomorrow,” said Ricciardo.
“If it stays like this it could be a close six-way fight for pole which would be pretty exciting for everyone. Tomorrow I want to work more on our race pace and the high fuel runs as we weren’t quite as competitive on those.
“It seems with the altitude here everyone’s power levels are closer, we will see tomorrow once everyone goes into qualifying mode but today on paper we look good.”
The Hypersoft tyre suffered significant amount of graining around a hot Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Friday, raising questions about what tyres drivers will use for qualifying and whether an option to do a two-stop strategy is the preferred call.
Despite being one of the drivers’ suffering graining on the faster tyres, Ricciardo feels the key come qualifying will be to get a clean lap around a ‘slippery’ track.
“The key in qualifying will be to get a clean lap as it’s still quite slippery around here and it’s easy to make small mistakes,” added Ricciardo.
“The Hypersoft is graining a lot, which is actually quite nice, as most of the races this season have been easy on a one-stop so maybe we will actually get a two-stop this weekend.”