AUSTIN, Texas — Daniel Ricciardo thinks he will have the pace to try and keep Sebastian Vettel behind him at the U.S. Grand Prix and fight with Ferrari for a spot on the podium.
Ricciardo qualified a distant fifth behind Mercedes and Ferrari on Saturday, but will move one spot up the grid after Vettel — who finished second — serves a penalty. The Australian was over a second off the pace off the Ferraris but he expects Red Bull’s race pace to be much closer.
Asked if he can fight with Vettel on Sunday, Ricciardo said: “I’d like to think so. We’ll see. I’ll do what I can.
“I think our race pace will be better than one-point-something off, but whether it’s two tenths off or six tenths off, I don’t know. But I’ll do my best.”
Ricciardo has not been on the podium since winning the Monaco Grand Prix in May. He thinks the key to ending his wait will be to go aggressive at the start.
“I hope and feel that gap will get somewhat halved tomorrow, and we’ll be able to be a bit more competitive. I think if it goes off in order, it will be hard to put pressure on them the whole race.
“But if we can get some track position on them at the start, gain a few positions, we could disrupt their tempo and have a good crack for a podium. So we will see.
“But I’m kind of glad that Seb was not on pole because that would mean I start fifth. Because he is second I now start fourth, because of the penalty. So, sorry Seb, but I will take every position I can at the moment.”