Red Bull duo want wet qualifying to fight Mercedes

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Red Bull duo want wet qualifying to fight Mercedes
Jonathan Noble
By: Jonathan Noble
Mar 23, 2018, 8:11 AM

Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo think likely wet weather for qualifying at the Australian Grand Prix can boost their chances of taking the fight to Mercedes.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer, in the pits
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer

Verstappen was the closest challenger to Mercedes on Friday at Albert Park, just 0.127s adrift of pace-setter Lewis Hamilton in second practice, as Red Bull's RB14 appears to have helped it close the gap to the front.

But although both drivers are more bullish about their long-run performance than of being able to match Mercedes in the fight for grid positions, both drivers think the rain could be a big boost to their hopes of an upset.

Ricciardo, who qualified on the front row in the rain-hit qualifying session for the 2014 Australian GP, said: "We always enjoy some wet weather - it just evens everything out.

"Today in the dry we didn't look too bad which is good, but the wet will give us a bit more a chance.

"The last wet qualifying we had here I think was 2014. That was not too bad, so hopefully we will try to do that again."

Verstappen said: "It is not so engine dependent in the wet, and it is a bit more tricky to go on power. Our car normally works quite well in the wet and I enjoy it as well, so hopefully tomorrow will be wet."

Both drivers were encouraged by the long-run pace of their car, as the RB14 showed that the potential it had displayed in pre-season testing was still there.

Verstappen said: "After testing in Barcelona there is always a bit of a guess about where you will be, it is not really clear. I am happy with how the car behaved today.

"There is still some room for improvement but I am happy with how the whole day went. We didn't have a lot of issues which is good."

Ricciardo added that his seventh place in the standings at the end of FP2 was not representative of his potential, after a mid-session red flag forced him to abandon his low fuel run.

"My time was four tenths up, compared to my soft," he said. "If I held that, it would be a low 1m24s, so maybe P3/P4. The balance wasn't perfect, so I wasn't too bothered."

Ricciardo said that the balance issue came up as he switched to ultrasofts, which prompted a return to the garage for some suspension changes.

"Even though I did only half a lap on the ultrasoft, I knew where the balance was going to go and it was going to take more than a front wing change," he said. "We tried to do something big for the long run, but time was running out."

Ricciardo was summoned to see the race stewards after practice for allegedly having driven too fast as he returned to the pits during the red flag period.

Additional reporting by Erwin Jaeggi and Andew van Leeuwen

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