Dan’s streak hopes
WINNING a first Formula One drivers’ championship may be beyond him this year, but Daniel Ricciardo is determined to make life as hard as possible for his rivals.
The Australian Red Bull driver is fourth in the standings with 107 points — 64 behind Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel — ahead of tonight’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The German is 20 clear of second-placed Lewis Hamilton whose controversial crash with Vettel in Azerbaijan last month handed Ricciardo his first win of the season.
Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes were quickest in Friday practice ahead of Ferrari duo Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
Ricciardo was sixth behind teammate Max Verstappen — 1.090sec slower than Bottas who collected a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change.
A Mercedes spokesman said his gearbox was damaged in the same way as Hamilton’s and the team had hoped to “coax it to the end of the cycle”.
Ricciardo was confident his Red Bull could battle for honours, but conceded the title was Vettel’s to lose this season.
“I’m still confident that we can fight for a podium on Sunday but we need to make a few improvements to make that happen,” he said.
“Seb is a good driver and this is where he is at his best.
“When he has good equipment and is in this kind of situation is when he is at his best — so for sure he has got the chance to win the title.
“I think we saw in Austria he was second and extended his lead but he was still pretty pissed off and I think he knows this is an opportunity for him to get the fifth title.”
Red Bull’s slow start to the year curtailed any hope of Ricciardo becoming the first Aussie world champion since Alan Jones in 1980.
“I try to maintain the level of pressure on the front guys, keep them guessing and hopefully keep on top of the podium,” he said.
“Some people talk about the championship, but it’s still way too early, I’m still 60-70 points off Seb, so I am definitely not thinking about that.
“I’ll just keep trying to maximise and if the others want to crash in front of me they can.”