Ricciardo qualified third in Austin, but will be the only driver in the top four starting on supersoft tyres, having used the red-marked rubber to record his best time in Q2 as opposed to more durable soft compound used by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg and his Red Bull team mate Max Verstappen.
“We start on the supersofts and the guys around me are on softs so I hope that works out well for me,” said the Australian. “We suspected that would be the case and I was happy to do it. Max was wanting to try the soft and I was happy to go on the supersoft. I was a bit more comfortable on that tyre yesterday in the long run so that was the reason for that.
“Hopefully it gives me a little bit off the start and we can challenge the first lap. The supersofts probably won’t have as much range as the softs so you want to try and get at least a handful of laps out of them, but ideally it puts me in a better position off the start and hopefully I can dictate my own pace as opposed to fighting in traffic.”
According to Pirelli, the quickest strategy choice on paper is a two-stopper, doing one stint of around 14 laps on supersofts and two stints of around 21 laps on softs.