Dan’s streak hopes

Sunday Herald Sun - - Sport -

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.”

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