You do not want to miss qualifying - that's the message from Daniel Ricciardo after the opening day of running in Mexico. The high-altitude conditions at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez circuit reduce the effect of Red Bull’s engine deficit and suit the RB14’s characteristics down to the ground, and Max Verstappen and Ricciardo made the most of it by dominating Friday’s practice running. But Ricciardo is expecting things to get considerably tougher on Saturday - and is talking up a potential six-way fight for pole position…
Red Bull finished a staggering 1.233s quicker than the pack in second practice, the RB14 managing to get the most out of the hypersoft compound tyres as rivals Mercedes and Ferrari struggled to do the same.
But while Ricciardo - who finished 0.153s adrift of pacesetter Verstappen, whose session ended on a sour note when his RB14 suffered a sudden power loss - was pleased with his team’s low-fuel running, he still expects Mercedes and Ferrari to hit back on Saturday for final practice and qualifying.
“I was happy with the low-fuel performance, it was much closer to the pace,” said Ricciardo. “It seems with the altitude, everyone’s power seems to be brought together. We’ll see tomorrow once everyone goes in qualifying. But at least today looking on paper, we looked pretty good. So happy with the Friday’s work.
“If it stays like this, then yeah, it’s between us [Ricciardo and Verstappen for pole], but I don’t want to be naive. I’m sure Ferrari and Mercedes will come on strong tomorrow.
“We’ll see what happens. I hope they don’t. It could be a close six-way fight for pole. I think that would be pretty exciting.”