Don’t expect to see Daniel Ricciardo vying for pole position when Saturday’s qualifying session for the Australian Grand Prix gets underway.
The Perth-born driver is holding out hope that he may be able to jag a podium finish in his home race but is realistic about his Red Bull machine’s limitations in the shorter-burst environment of qualifying.
“I think the long run pace will be better for us – the short runs in qualifying we’re probably not going to be as strong,” Ricciardo said.
“We’ll see what happens … time will tell. I’ve been answering these questions all week and you can’t really answer them … Sunday is when we’ll see where all the pace is.”
Saturday’s qualifying will be the first run under a new format where the slowest drivers around the Albert Park circuit will be progressively eliminated during an hour-long session.
By his own admission, Ricciardo’s Red Bull is unlikely to be capable of pushing the pace-setting Mercedes cars or even the Ferraris until improvements are made to the car’s engine in the second half of the season.
That situation prompted Australian racing legend Alan Jones to urge Ricciardo to consider jumping ship to Ferrari at season’s end but the 26-year-old brushed aside the idea.
“I heard AJ say that, or I heard some comments, and got asked about it but last year I was asked as well – I don’t have much more to say on it,” Ricciardo said.
“It’s still very early in the season and to give a boring answer but an honest answer, I’m just completely focused on this year now with Red Bull.
“That’s where it stands and I’m not exactly out of contract either … I wouldn’t get too excited.”