'Old dog' Ricciardo hoping to learn 'new tricks' in Russia
Daniel Ricciardo believes he still has 'some tricks to learn' around a Russian Grand Prix circuit he has found tough to master in the past.
On six previous visits to the Sochi Autodrom, Ricciardo's best qualifying performance has been fifth, while he has never finished higher than sixth.
The 5.848km track is complex, with the first two sectors primarily comprising medium-speed corners, while the final sector is more slow speed, with the overall layout requiring what Renault's chief race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam describes as "a compliant set-up".
After a strong set of results during the recent triple-header, with two fourth-place finishes in Spa and Mugello either side of a sixth at Monza, Ricciardo is determined to "keep up the points-scoring run", but is aware there is more he can do and achieve at Sochi.
"My race was pretty short in Sochi last year with a bit of turn four chaos," said Ricciardo who started from 10th before retiring on lap 24 due to collision damage.
"I think after that race, I remember quite vividly thinking ‘We have to do better in qualifying, so we are not in the midfield’.
"It wasn’t my strongest weekend last year with qualifying, so it’s something I want to put emphasis on this year, to try and get on top of the track.
"It’s never been my strongest circuit and there are still some tricks for me to learn on it. It’s a flat circuit, completely different to Mugello, which is pretty up and down, and Sochi is literally the opposite.
"Personally, I’m looking to improve on a few personal weaknesses there. I'm looking forward to going back and trying to figure it out."
Renault and Ricciardo are currently embroiled in tight championship fights, with the team fifth, just 23 points behind third-placed McLaren, while the Australian is seventh in the drivers' standing, 12 points adrift of Lando Norris.
Ricciardo knows every point is crucial if he is to leave Renault on a high before the end of the year. He added: "We’re in a really tight midfield fight with a number of teams with one or two tenths [of a second] either way the difference between the second row of the grid or ending outside the top 10.
"That challenge is exciting. It means we have to find everything from within the car and make it work.
"We had two fourth places from the last triple-header, the target remains to take those big points to keep in the championship fight."
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