Daniel Ricciardo feels his decision to slog it out on the McLaren simulator after the Monaco Grand Prix has paid off because he has developed a better “understanding” of his car in Azerbaijan this weekend.
“I did quite a bit of work from Monaco into this race and spent a few days in the sim and I think the work has paid off,” explained Ricciardo. “I think the understanding of the car, everything feels as expected.
“It was a fairly productive day. The afternoon was a bit messy, there was virtual safety cars and we didn’t hit the lap on the softs, so there is a bit more there. I’ve just got to now execute what I know I can do and just put it all together.”
McLaren in the midfield mix
Ricciardo was fifth fastest in the opening practice session, just a tenth behind the fourth-placed Red Bull of Sergio Perez, but dropped to 13th in FP2 despite feeling he had made improvements.
He believes the midfield pack will be “pretty close” this weekend and added: “FP1 the scoreboard was better but FP2 I feel like I made some good steps. A few tenths gets us up into P6 or 7.
“[We will do] a bit of work tonight but I think it’s going to be a pretty close weekend. There are a lot of teams that can be within a few tenths of each other. Just find a few tenths for tomorrow and we should be in a good spot.”
In such a tight fight, where every tenth will count, some teams will undoubtedly be considering a strategic qualifying session in which one car is sent out to lead another and provide a speed-inducing slipstream tow on the main straight.
Ricciardo did not reveal whether McLaren will be one of those teams but said: “It definitely makes a massive difference here but sometimes if you plan it you can have yourselves over.
“If you get lucky it can give you literally half a second. I haven’t thought that far ahead but it is massively efficient here if you can get it right.”
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