Tracking Ricciardo’s Difficult Weekend in Sochi

Daniel Ricciardo had stated that he was ‘pretty happy’ with his qualifying result of 5th today. Red Bull Racing driver Ricciardo managed to put the RB13 on the third row of the grid ahead of the Russian Grand Prix. He was ‘best of the rest’ after Ferrari and Mercedes.

Ricciardo insisted the free practice sessions weren’t entirely reflective of the team’s pace, so was happy to be starting the race ahead of Williams.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer leads Felipe Massa of Brazil driving the (19) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW40 Mercedes on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia on April 30, 2017 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA – APRIL 30: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer leads Felipe Massa of Brazil driving the (19) Williams Martini Racing Williams FW40 Mercedes on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia on April 30, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“I don’t think the practice session timings were completely representative of our pace and I felt like we were always a bit better than the timing screen showed but we hadn’t quite put it all together.

In Q1 and Q2 we were trying to circulate and build temperature in the tyres but in Q3 we went for it and decided just to do one push lap which seemed to work so I’m glad we chose to do that. I’m pretty happy, I think fifth was all we could ask for today and that’s obvious looking at the gap to the front.

Fifth is our best qualifying result here in Russia and we have to take the positives for now so I’m pleased to have achieved that for the team.”

– Daniel Ricciardo

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30:  Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia on April 30, 2017 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA – APRIL 30: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing prepares to drive in the garage during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia on April 30, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A brake failure early on in the race prevented Daniel Ricciardo from exploiting the potential of his RB13. Max Verstappen finished the race 5th, with big gaps to Raikkonen ahead and Perez behind. Red Bull find themselves in a very clear 3rd place this season. The team and the drivers have aspirations for better things though, and after the race, Ricciardo said,

“After the safety car I looked in my mirror to see where the Force India was and I noticed that the right rear brake was on fire, I reported it to the team and they told me to bring the car back to the pits slowly. Unfortunately the issue could not be fixed and I had to retire from the race. It was early in the race so I don’t know how much the safety car and two starts impacted us but the team will obviously investigate that.

We don’t know how much the new package will give us until we get it on track in a few weeks but we are hoping Barcelona is the first step to getting closer to the leaders.”

– Daniel Ricciardo

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia on April 30, 2017 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA – APRIL 30: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia on April 30, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Where has the momentum from last season gone? In qualifying so far, the closest a Red Bull has been to the pole time was 0.7s in Bahrain. In Sochi, Ricciardo was 1.7s behind Vettel’s best lap.

The team are hoping that the chassis updates that arrive in Barcelona will reduce the gap a bit, but assuming that Mercedes and Ferrari won’t be sitting still either, it looks like it could be an enduring season for Ricciardo and Verstappen. The fight for the 2017 title would have been much more entertaining with the inclusion of the exciting Red Bull duo, but the car is clearly lacking at the moment and it can’t all be down to the Renault power unit.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - APRIL 30: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer and Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer at the start during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia on April 30, 2017 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA – APRIL 30: Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer and Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Red Bull Racing Red Bull-TAG Heuer RB13 TAG Heuer at the start during the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia on April 30, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Both drivers are proven race winners and this makes the way Red Bull approach their shortcomings more simple, when they know the drivers can realise the optimum of the car, they can look to the chassis for performance and hope that Renault gradually improved during the season. It’s almost worth Force India catching them on circuit, just so we get to see Ricciardo and Verstappen battling other teams. It has been a muted start to the 2017 season with one podium finish in the opening four races.