An upbeat Daniel Ricciardo weathered the wet but still had nagging questions after the opening practice sessions at the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
Mercedes’ reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton set an ominous early pace by banking the fastest laps in two practice sessions on Friday around a rain-soaked Albert Park in Melbourne.
But Australian hope Ricciardo wasn’t far behind, clocking the third-fastest time in the first practice session and the fourth quickest in the second.
“The laps that we did, I was pretty happy with. And the car is in a decent place,” Ricciardo said.
“We probably still have some unanswered questions but I think (Saturday) will answer them.”
Fickle weather dogged day one of the season-opening grand prix, with rain and strong winds impacting both practice sessions.
“Conditions just made it a little hard,” Ricciardo said.
“We didn’t do that much constant running so I think tomorrow is going to be a little bit of a mixed bag for everyone.
“It’s a shame we didn’t get to do more laps but I’m not too frustrated with the position that we’re in.
“At least it’s the same for everyone and I think we’ll be able to adapt quickly to changing conditions.”
From the early running, Ricciardo and other drivers appear to be fighting to finish second behind Mercedes star Hamilton.
The Englishman justified his raging favouritism by logging laps almost half-a-second quicker than his nearest rival in both sessions.
Hamilton clocked a best lap of 1min29.725sec in the first session but was more than eight seconds slower in the later practice as a wet track hampered drivers.
His teammate Nico Rosberg crashed out of the last session when he lost control and skidded into a wall, damaging the front wing and nose of his Mercedes.
Ricciardo also found trouble with his opening practice session abruptly ending when he slid off the track at turn 12 and his car came to a halt in the gravel.
Ricciardo left his car and walked back to the pits – stopping to allow some spectators to take his photo and shaking the hands of other fans on the way.
“That was all planned … I told a bunch of my mates to wait at the exit of turn 12 there, so they were stoked – they didn’t think I would go through with it,” he joked.