Daniel Ricciardo believes that Red Bull is gaining ground on Mercedes at the front of the pack in Formula 1 after locking out the second row of the grid for the third race in a row on Saturday in Germany.
Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen qualified third and fourth respectively at Hockenheim, finishing four-tenths of a second off pole-sitter Nico Rosberg.
“In Q3 I knew I had to find some more time and I put a really good lap together in the first run,” Ricciardo said after the session.
“Then I knew there wasn’t much more for the second run so I probably tried a little bit too hard and made a few mistakes, but in the end it was a nice qualifying.
“Third is a good place to start. Hopefully we can look at Mercedes tomorrow and have a good battle with them and not focus on what’s happening behind us.”
Red Bull spent the first half of the season embroiled in a close battle with Ferrari, but now appears to have pulled clear in the battle for second in the F1 pecking order.
“The feeling in the team is very good at the moment,” Ricciardo said.
“In the last three races now both Red Bulls have been in front of Ferrari and it seems like we’re getting a little bit closer to Mercedes.
“Everyone in the team is happy and it’s nice standing here knowing that I’m in the top three. Tomorrow I think we’ll have a good chance.
“The long runs yesterday looked a bit better than they did in Budapest so let’s see. I’ll start the race on slightly older tires because I had to do two laps in Q2, which means they are not as fresh for the start but it’ll be fine.
“I’ll go hard and hopefully get in front and at least lead some of the race.”
Verstappen echoed Ricciardo’s thoughts on the battle at the front, saying that although Red Bull’s main competitor was still Ferrari, Mercedes is in its crosshairs.
“The main target is to be in front of the Ferraris and that is what we have done,” Verstappen said.
“That said, we know they will be quick in the race as we saw last week.
“Mercedes look pretty strong but we are not that far away so I think we can be very happy with that.
“It’s my first time here in a Formula 1 car and not an easy track to learn so I’m really pleased with today. We can both be satisfied to be on the second row as this track wasn’t expected to be the best for us.
“Race pace is looking very good for the moment. We definitely want to be challenging for a podium tomorrow, I think a win might be difficult though.”
The German Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Sunday from 7am ET.