Daniel Ricciardo says that he is struggling to achieve a yield from the ultrasoft compound tyre after finishing a second off the pace in Friday practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Ricciardo was one of only two drivers to go slower in Practice 2 than Practice 1, the other being Haas’ Romain Grosjean when he did not run on ultrasofts in the latter session, complaining of a long brake pedal.
However, the Red Bull Racing driver said that getting the ultrasoft tyres to work was his main problem, having only been able to lap 0.2s quicker than on the next-quickest rubber available this weekend, the soft compound.
“The ultrasoft is difficult,” said Ricciardo.
“For me I just struggled to get more grip out of the tyre today. I felt like after the first sector already I killed the tyre and the lap time didn’t really improve after the first three or four corners.
“We need to get that tyre working better over one lap.
“It might push us in a certain direction in the race, but I think we can improve on that, so (in Practice 3) we’ll have another crack and see how we go.”
When asked specifically about running with the soft compound during Q2, which would lock him into starting on that compound should he advance to Q3 having set his fastest lap on it during the middle part of qualifying, Ricciardo agreed it was a possibility.
He also suggested that the #3 RB14 would be better in race conditions.
“It’s still too early to say. I think it’s no secret that I think a few people are thinking of qualifying on the soft,” said the West Australian.
“It’s not that bad a tyre around here. The ultra doesn’t seem to last that long, so you might see a few yellow tyres (soft compound) in Q2.
“Our long runs were better, but it’s still tricky. It’s a front-dominated circuit, so you struggle a lot with the front tyres, but also the rear wasn’t that easy (on Friday) either.
“So it was tricky, but I don’t think we’re actually looking too bad. We’ll make some adjustments and be stronger (on Saturday).”
There is a step change in this weekend’s tyre allocation with Pirelli offering the medium, soft, and ultrasoft.
Earlier in the weekend, the FIA confirmed that Ricciardo was this weekend already up to his second of two allowed energy stores for the season, meaning a grid penalty for another change before the end of the year.
Practice 3 starts at 1300 AEST before Qualifying from 1600.