Daniel Ricciardo has said that it’s highly unlikely he will be able to put on an overtaking masterclass at the Singapore Grand Prix, insisting the only way he can get amongst the fight for the podium is to commit to a one-stop strategy and hope those around him take a different path.
The Australian qualified P6 around the Marina Bay circuit on Saturday evening, 0.981s down on pole sitter Lewis Hamilton’s time and 0.662s adrift of Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, who will start P2 for the second successive year.
Ricciardo is looking for his fifth straight podium in Singapore — something only Vettel has previously achieved — and while pleased with his car’s race pace, he says overtaking on the tight and twisty street circuit is going to be challenging.
“It’s going to be so hard to overtake. I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but strategy is going to be our best option,” Ricciardo said. “Being out of track position, the reality is pushing on someone and being able to overtake is slim.
“The best case is to try and preserve the tyres, go long and make a one-stop work. Hopefully some guys are two stopping and it gives us a chance for the one stop.”
Ricciardo also believes an opportunity for gains could come through a potential Ferrari tyre struggle. The Scuderia initially looked to qualifying in Q2 — and therefore start the race on the ultra-soft tyre — but the extreme difference in lap time deltas forced them to run the softer compound in order to safely progress to the final phase of qualifying.
“I have optimism in that Ferrari tried to get through Q2 with ultras,” he said. “That tells me they didn’t want to start on the hyper so they may run into problems. I think a one stop is going to be tight regardless, though. So strategy, or someone running on the track like 2015 might help me out this time.”
Ricciardo and Red Bull will be hoping for a decent result in today’s race. But he knows that Mercedes and Ferrari will not make it easy