Ricciardo gets big boost

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who won the Spanish Grand Prix on his Red Bull debut last time out, rounding a corner in the second practice session in Monaco. He was fourth-fastest behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and the two Mercedes cars of Lewis
Dutch teenager Max Verstappen, who won the Spanish Grand Prix on his Red Bull debut last time out, rounding a corner in the second practice session in Monaco. He was fourth-fastest behind team-mate Daniel Ricciardo and the two Mercedes cars of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Verstappen tips him for success with new engine but teen is upbeat even with older unit

MONACO • Record-breaking Dutch teenager Max Verstappen believes his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo has the engine for success in tomorrow's Monaco Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old Red Bull driver said after finishing fourth in Thursday's practice that the new Renault power unit in the Australian's car had given him the edge as he clocked the fastest time.

Ricciardo timed 1min 14.607sec, more than six-tenths of a second ahead of the two Mercedes of defending champion Lewis Hamilton and championship leader Nico Rosberg, who were followed by Verstappen in the second Red Bull.

"There is a bit of a difference," the Dutchman said, talking about the contrast between the updated TAG-branded engine in Ricciardo's car and the "older" unit in his own.

"And, for sure, especially in Canada (the next Grand Prix race on June 12) , it will make a bigger difference, but I have to do the best possible job I can."

He added that his own performance, in only his second outing since stepping up from the Toro Rosso team, was encouraging.

"Not too bad, for me," he said. "The feeling was there. I just built it up lap by lap and we didn't have any crashes. That was the most important thing.

"We need to work on the car balance, just getting a bit more confident in the car, and from thereon we will see what happens."

Two weeks on from the Spanish Grand Prix, in which he became the sport's youngest race winner, he was looking at the prospects of another possible podium finish.

"We are not too far off so we will try to improve our car, because for sure Mercedes will do that as well," he said. "And then, we will see. For us the most important thing is to work on our car."

Rosberg and Hamilton said they were stunned by the unexpected speed displayed by Ricciardo in Thursday's second free practice.

"It is definitely surprising how quick they (Red Bull) were," said Rosberg. "We expected them to be there, or thereabouts, but not that quick. We have some homework to do."

Hamilton was slightly more upbeat. He said: "I don't feel like I got a great lap so there's still time in me - not six-tenths, but still time.

"The gap is definitely closer than it looks. You'll see us within tenths of a second.

"They are very much a threat - they're very, very fast. I'm not surprised because the power doesn't make a difference here and I've always known they have a good car.

"Did we expect them to be as fast as they were (on Thursday)? Perhaps not - may a bit closer."

Rosberg said that he did not think that "turning up" the power on their engines for qualifying would be enough for Mercedes to bridge the gap.

"It's very simple, they were faster than us," he said. "We need to dig into it and see if we can find a big chunk of lap time.

"We can still turn up our engine, but we don't have six-tenths of turning up in the engine."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MONACO GRAND PRIX

Practice 3 (4.55pm)

Qualifying (7.30pm)

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline 'Ricciardo gets big boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe