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.”
There are 25 drivers on the NTT IndyCar Series entry lists at Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with a few new yet familiar faces for the Oct. 2-3 race weekend.
Four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais will make his season debut in the No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet (shifting Dalton Kellett to the No. 41) with AJ Foyt Racing, which he is joining full time next season. James Hinchcliffe, who had run three races with Andretti Autosport, will return in place of Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda. Helio Castroneves will drive Arrow McLaren SP’s No. 7 Dallara-Chevy for Oliver Askew, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.
Sage Karam, who has two IndyCar starts this year at IMS (the road course on July 4 and the Indy 500 on Aug. 23), also will return to the series in Dreyer & Reinbold’s No. 24 Dallara-Chevrolet.
HARVEST GP ENTRY LISTS: Friday l Saturday
Friday and Saturday of the Harvest GP presented by GMR will mark the second and third races this season on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. While the July 4 race on the circuit was 80 laps, Friday’s distance is 85 laps, and Saturday will be a 75-lap event.
Championship leader Scott Dixon led 26 of 80 laps to win the July 4 race at the IMS road course. With three races remaining in the series, the five-time series champion enters with a 72-point lead on Josef Newgarden.
Click here to see who’s on the IndyCar entry lists in Race 1 and in Race 2 for the Harvest GP presented by GMR at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
START TIMES AND TV INFO FOR INDYCAR AT INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY ROAD COURSE (all times ET):
—IndyCar NTT Series practice: 2:25-3:40 p.m., NBC Sports Gold
—IndyCar qualifying, Race 1: 6:20 p.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold
—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 1: 3:30 p.m. (green flag, 5 p.m.), USA Network, NBC Sports Gold
—IndyCar qualifying: 10:20 a.m. (two groups/12 minutes apiece), NBC Sports Gold
—IndyCar Harvest Grand Prix, Race 2: 2:30 p.m (green flag, 2:31 p.m.)., NBC, NBC Sports Gold