Daniel Ricciardo believes that fifth place was “realistically” the best result Red Bull could hope for in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix as it held onto second place in the Formula 1 constructors’ championship.
Ricciardo and Red Bull qualified sixth on Saturday at Monza, the high-speed nature of the circuit playing against the strengths of the RB12 car.
Ricciardo enjoyed a race-long battle with Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, making a late pass for fifth to follow the Mercedes and Ferrari drivers home.
“Yeah absolutely, realistically yes,” Ricciardo said when asked by NBCSN if P5 was the most he could have hoped for.
“We could have hoped for some incidents. But Mercedes was on another level and Ferrari had more all weekend.
“We didn’t get our hopes up. Fifth was good. We put a nice move on Valtteri. I told you before the wasp ambushed me that I’d get Valtteri and I did.”
Ricciardo put his advantage over Bottas down to better tire management, the Williams driving chewing through his tires during the middle stint.
“He was quick on same tire, I think they had more than us on raw pace. But our tire deg was a bit better,” Ricciardo said.
“We held on a few more laps. We stayed out longer every stint so we could put on the super-soft at the end. In the end that’s what we did. Thanks to the team for that strategy and pull off that move.”
Ricciardo has high hopes for the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks’ time, with the tight and twisty nature of the track better suiting the Red Bull car.
“I don’t want to go in there saying I’m gonna win, but we have to aim for a podium,” Ricciardo said.
“It was a dud for Merc last year. Unfortunately I’m sure they’ll be back on form. But I like the track, I like the challenge. It’s hot, humid, physical and I look forward to going there and having some fun.”
In the second Red Bull, Max Verstappen dropped from P7 on the grid on the first lap before fighting his way back into the top 10, eventually finishing the race seventh.
“Yeah I dropped the clutch then got into anti-stall. We have to look into what happened,” Verstappen told NBCSN, reflecting on his start.
“From there, it was a little bit of a difficult situation after Lap 1. We had good pace, overtook some people and that was a positive.
“I hope we can challenge for victory [in Singapore]. This wasn’t too bad. Here it’s very power dependent.”
Red Bull’s points haul ensured it retained second place in the constructors’ championship heading to Singapore, leading Ferrari by 11 points.