Ricciardo targets front row if rain hits Suzuka F1 qualifying

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Daniel Ricciardo believes that Red Bull can get onto the front row of the grid for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix should rain hit Suzuka during Saturday’s qualifying session.

Ricciardo arrives in Japan coming off the back of his fourth grand prix victory in Malaysia after capitalizing on Lewis Hamilton’s engine failure with 17 laps remaining.

The Australian driver enjoyed a quiet Friday of running, hiding the outright one-lap pace of the Red Bull by not completing a fast run on the soft compound tire.

The focus for Red Bull was on its long run pace, which Ricciardo was pleased by after finishing his running on the hard compound tire that will be used during the race.

“We had a pretty good day today and a positive afternoon,” Ricciardo said.

“We made some improvements from this morning and the lap we had to abort because of the Virtual Safety Car looked to be in the 32s which was close to Kimi’s time. Our long run pace towards the end of FP2 on the hard tire looked pretty solid as well.

“If we can hook the car up for qualifying, we can be close to Mercedes and probably be ahead of the Ferraris, we can definitely squeeze a bit more out of the car tomorrow. There have been improvements from our side and the Ferraris so we expect the rest of the season to be tighter.

“If it rains for quali, it won’t hurt us and we might even be able to get on the front row. I’m ready either way, this place is fun in both wet and dry conditions.”

Qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 1am ET on Saturday.