Ricciardo: Red Bull closer to Mercedes than expected

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Daniel Ricciardo is pleased to have qualified in third place for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix after finishing as the ‘best of the rest’ behind the Mercedes drivers on Saturday night at Marina Bay.

The Red Bull driver temporarily sat on provisional pole before both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg came through to beat his time, leaving him 0.173 seconds adrift of the P1 time at the checkered flag.

However, Ricciardo was pleased with his showing during the qualifying session, saying that he finished far closer than he had anticipated during practice on Friday.

“It’s definitely encouraging,” he said of the result. “Coming into the weekend, I thought if we could be within two or three tenths, it should give us a bit more optimistic chance in the race to stay with them.

“I think we ended up a bit closer than we thought we would, particularly after yesterday, so I think it was a good day.

“It’s good fun out there. The track was really improving so you had to adapt a lot during the session. Street circuits tend to be like that, so it keeps you on your toes, so it’s good fun.”

When Ricciardo crossed the line to take provisional pole in Q3, a huge cheer went up from the grandstands in support of the Australian driver as a number of his home fans have made the trip to Singapore this weekend.

“I’ve got a few mates here this weekend and there’s probably a few more here that I don’t know about,” he said. “Yeah, it’s close to home, so it’s nice to see a few Aussie flags. Hopefully keep it up there tomorrow and try and see a better view from the podium.”

Although Red Bull did look capable of getting into the fight for pole position on Saturday evening, Ricciardo still produced a good final lap to finish third, and he will be waiting in the wings to capitalize on any incident between the two Mercedes drivers at the front of the field in the race tomorrow.

Once again, Ricciardo will start ahead of four-time world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, who was forced to settle for P4 on the grid.

You can watch the Singapore Grand Prix live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 7.30am ET tomorrow.