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Ricciardo hopes Red Bull will benefit from "conservative" Mercedes

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Ricciardo hopes Red Bull will benefit from "conservative" Mercedes
By:
Sep 30, 2017, 1:23 PM

Daniel Ricciardo hopes a likely “conservative” approach by Malaysian Grand Prix pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton will play into the hands of his immediate rivals in the race.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 in the Press Conference
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-Benz F1 W08
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing and Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG F1 in the Press Conference
Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari SF70H

Overcoming a torrid start to the Sepang weekend for his Mercedes team, Hamilton narrowly beat Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen to pole position – as the Brit's main title rival Sebastian Vettel was sidelined by a costly engine failure.

With Hamilton 28 points clear after Vettel's Singapore crash and the duo set to start on opposite ends of the grid, Ricciardo – who qualified fourth, just behind Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen - expects the pole-sitter will be happy enough to simply add to his championship lead.

“He can afford to lose,” Ricciardo mused. “He can afford to come third, fourth. If he finishes in front of Seb, it's a win.

“I don't know where they [Mercedes] are on engines as well, I don't think they're going to run to the top [of the engine] for the whole race.

“I think they will have to be conservative for their sake, especially if they're in a podium position and Seb's still seventh or whatever. So it could bring the whole race towards us.”

Ricciardo admits he's also encouraged by the fact Hamilton's teammate Valtteri Bottas struggled to fifth on the grid, the Aussie taking it as a sign that Mercedes hadn't got to the bottom of the problems that have plagued the W08 this weekend.

“Obviously Lewis got it working, Valtteri didn't,” Ricciardo said. “I think they're still struggling a bit to find grip in that car.

“I think Lewis is obviously able to find it on one lap. I'm not sure he can do that on every lap tomorrow so I'm hopeful it will bring everyone closer.”

While Ricciardo doesn't believe the Mercedes car will have enough pace to dominate proceedings, he feels Raikkonen's Ferrari could run away with the grand prix win, should the Finn take the lead in a dry race.

“I think now you would say Kimi is in the hot seat in the dry conditions, that should be the best car,” Ricciardo said.

“If Kimi was to get out in front, I would say, looking at the pace all weekend, it minimises our chances - but let's say it [the start] goes off in order.

“Mercedes haven't shown enough to really show that they are going to dominate in the dry so they could definitely open up some opportunities.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

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