Daniel Ricciardo believed that Red Bull had a genuine chance of winning Sunday’s Formula 1 race in Bahrain before issues on the soft compound tire caused him to drop back from the leading runners.
Red Bull had been around one second per lap adrift of Ferrari and Mercedes in the opening two races of the year, but a good start saw Max Verstappen run fourth for the team ahead of Ricciardo in fifth.
Valtteri Bottas’ slow pace at the front of the pack allowed the Red Bull drivers to stay within three seconds of the leader, giving Ricciardo hope of a breakthrough win in 2017.
A safety car period allowed Ricciardo to jump up to third ahead of Lewis Hamilton, only for his soft tires to struggle to get up to temperature, causing him to fall back on the restart.
“The safety car was nice, we jumped up to third, but it wasn’t nice to our tires. That’s where we lost a lot of ground today,” Ricciardo told NBCSN after the race.
“We got going, but I struggled with both front and rear grip. Even then we settled into a pace, let’s say the chaos settled, we never got the tire really working. The soft was a real pain today. I was at the tail end of the pack. But I felt I was in best condition. Others slid and I managed the tires well.
“I genuinely thought we could fight for the win but we fell back.”
Ricciardo was left to endure a lonely race en route to fifth place for Red Bull, leaving him to think of his own fun in the car.
“I was singing songs to myself, thinking about a good night’s rest,” Ricciardo said.
“One [song] from Austin last year, No Devil by Sam Firman. It’s a good song.”