Motor racing: Ricciardo seeks win after near miss

Daniel Ricciardo working his way to fourth place in the recent Italian Grand Prix after starting 16th on the grid. After two straight runner-up positions in Singapore, he wants to go one better this year.
Daniel Ricciardo working his way to fourth place in the recent Italian Grand Prix after starting 16th on the grid. After two straight runner-up positions in Singapore, he wants to go one better this year.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Ferrari & Mercedes set to continue battle but Aussie driver expects Red Bull to come close

MELBOURNE • Just a year ago, Daniel Ricciardo came within a whisker of winning the Singapore Grand Prix.

The Red Bull Formula One driver put on the speed as he closed down Mercedes' Nico Rosberg in the closing stages of the race at the Marina Bay Circuit.

In the end, he failed to win, finishing 0.488 of a second adrift. But it was his best result in Singapore in six visits since 2011.

The Australian is confident he will have another good run at the Singapore night race on Sunday.

"At Singapore, I genuinely think we can certainly fight for the podium again, but hopefully I get my first win there," the 28-year-old was quoted as saying by Australia's Wheels website.

"I've been knocking on the door for a few years there, and we'll have a few more updates there as well. If they work as they should, then it should put us in a good position."

EASING IN

You have to build up speed a little slower in the practice sessions on a street circuit like Singapore. At some point you have to start taking risks but to do that straight away doesn't make sense.

DANIEL RICCIARDO, on the tough test presented by the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

Again in Singapore, like it has been for most of the season, it is likely to be a battle between Mercedes and Ferrari for the top spot.

But Ricciardo has shown some impressive form himself, driving himself up from 16th on the grid to fourth at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza a week ago.

Singapore's 23-turn street track should also suit him as it favours skill over horsepower.

"Around that type of circuit Ferrari would be the ones to beat," he said. "They'll be stronger than Mercedes. With their car this year it seems to be their type of circuit. But we'll come close for sure."

However, it is not easy to win in Singapore as it is also a serious test of human endurance with cockpit temperatures reaching 55 deg C at racing speeds.

"I believe Singapore is one of our best chances of a win in the second half of the season," Ricciardo told formula1.com.

"You have to build up speed a little slower in the practice sessions on a street circuit like Singapore. At some point you have to start taking risks but to do that straight away doesn't make sense.

"I always prepare for the race with some acclimatisation training. You feel the heat when you're in the car, but when you stop after the race and the adrenaline decreases you feel it even more. After the race I will easily drink five litres of water to rehydrate before I go to bed.

"I've started second and finished second at this track in the last two years, with fastest lap both times, so my aim this year is definitely to start on pole and try to go one better in the race."

His team-mate Max Verstappen, who started 13th in Monza after collecting 20 grid penalties and finishing 10th in the race, is also upbeat about Red Bull's chances in Singapore.

"I'm looking forward to getting to Singapore as it's always a special weekend," he told formula1.com. "The race has been a strong one for us in the past and I think we should be able to challenge for a podium this year."

The Dutch driver has already been preparing to combat the heat.

"The night race and hot temperatures really test you to the limit and for me Singapore is physically the hardest race of the season," he said. " I have been preparing already for a few weeks doing heat training in the sauna and getting ready to sweat so I can cope with the heat.

"The track itself has a lot of corners which is why I enjoy driving there and like most street circuits it's pretty bumpy which makes it even more challenging."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'Ricciardo seeks win after near miss'. Print Edition | Subscribe