Nico Rosberg has said that he is delighted with his performance in qualifying for the Singapore Grand Prix after finishing P2 on Saturday, yet he will undoubtedly know that pole position was within his reach.
Mercedes have been on the pace all weekend, being Red Bull’s closest challengers throughout practice. In qualifying, the defending world champions appeared to lay down a pace that was unbeatable, so much so that Sebastian Vettel opted not to run for a second time in Q3 despite the track improving and his competitors all going out. This move very nearly back-fired, with the gap of almost six-tenths of a second diminishing to just 0.091 seconds when Rosberg took the checkered flag, nearly gifting Mercedes their ninth pole position of the season. However, the Mercedes driver is not thinking about “what might have been”, instead choosing to look at the positives.
“It was so close to beating Sebastian to pole this evening but I’m still really happy to have achieved second place,” Rosberg said. “It’s so important to start from the front here so we are in a very good position for the race.”
Rosberg professed his confidence in the race pace of the W04 car, but he conceded that beating Vettel and Red Bull may not be possible under the lights in Singapore.
“Our race pace was strong on Friday so I’m feeling quite confident for tomorrow evening. I doubt if we have enough performance to beat Sebastian but I’ll do my best to have a good start and then we’ll see how it goes from there.”
Having won twice so far this season, Rosberg will be keen on adding to this figure before the end of the year. His win in Monaco does suggest that he will run strongly at another high downforce circuit such as Singapore, but quite whether he can challenge Vettel – a two-time winner in Singapore – remains to be seen.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.