HOCKENHEIM, July 18, 2014 (F1plus/Graham Keilloh).- Friday’s practice running in advance of the German Grand Prix was a highly encouraging onenfor Red Bull, particularly as in the second session Daniel Ricciardo got very close to the Mercedes out front, setting a best time just a tenth over that of the pace-setting Lewis Hamilton.
After Ricciardo was encouraged by it all. “It was definitely a good Friday for us” he said, “I get the impression we’re quite competitive, maybe we can have a little bit of a push this weekend, let’s see how we go.”
A widespread initial impression of Hockenheim’s Friday running is that taking the infamous FRIC from all the cars has helped Red Bull get closer to Mercedes. Ricciardo thought it was possible but remained cautious: “Looking at today it seems possibly (that Mercedes is less strong without FRIC). But I think tomorrow is the important one.
“They’ve done it before this year, they come into qualifying and pull half a second on everyone else. Let’s see how we go. But let’s say if this would be the result of qualifying then yeah I’d say maybe that (FRIC) and maybe a few other things have made a difference.
“The (Red Bull) car itself doesn’t feel that different; hopefully for some of the other teams they feel a bigger difference without running it but I think it’s not going to change too much. Let’s see – if Mercedes are only a tenth ahead tomorrow then maybe it’s doing something.”
But he reiterated however that the effect of removing FRIC on the Red Bull has been minimal, in both handling and lap time.
“Fortunately I don’t think it’s changing too much in the balance, how the car is feeling, through the corner…maybe we feel a bit more bumps and stuff in the car, maybe it feels a little bit more rigid, other than that it’s pretty unchanged.
“I’m sure there’s a little bit of performance there but it’s nothing drastic, we’re talking maybe one, two tenths at the most.”
Ricciardo was confident of another strong result this weekend, but noted that there are additional likely challenges from by the extremes of the weather.
“The podium is always my target now, and it’s going to be up to tyre wear and weather this weekend, Sunday’s looking like there could be a storm coming so we’ll see. I think it’s about being smart and trying to hang on and see how we go until the end.”
On the supersoft tyre he noted: “For one lap it’s OK, the track was really hot today so it was pushing the tyre, but for one lap it was holding up. The long runs are a bit more aggressive on tyre wear, this weekend will be much more (tyre limited) than Silverstone.
“I don’t think we’ll be seeing any one stops, I think maybe two or three could definitely be possible.”