Ricciardo confident ahead of Baku qualifying

Daniel Ricciardo

A positive opening day of running at the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix has left Daniel Ricciardo confident ahead of qualifying.

The Australian topped Free Practice 1 for a time before ending Friday’s afternoon session 13th fastest.

While hardly a standout performance, Ricciardo suggests the Free Practice 2 result is not a true representation of his pace this weekend.

“It was a pretty good day,” he sad.

“We certainly found a few things and made progress.

“The lap times don’t always tell the full story, and 13th doesn’t show much, but I think we’re a lot closer than that.

“Obviously, we’ve still got to work hard to make it happen, but I think today was certainly a step in the right direction and I feel more comfortable and confident going into tomorrow.”

Ricciardo spent time in McLaren’s simulator in the lead up to the Azerbaijan event.

That followed a tough weekend in Monaco where he qualified and raced outside of the top 10.

Having been overshadowed by team-mate Lando Norris two weeks ago, Ricciardo is thus far on par with the Brit this weekend.

“FP1, we looked quite good; FP2 we struggled a little bit more, so we’ll try to understand and see if it was anything we did with the set-up or the conditions,” Norris said of his Friday, which saw him end both sessions eighth fastest.

“A lot of room for improvement going into tomorrow, so we’ll see what we can do with our data tonight and work out how we can improve the car.”

Hot conditions dominated running, with track temperatures reaching close to 50 degrees at points.

With Pirelli bringing the three softest compounds from its range, tyres will be a key factor.

“An interesting and productive Friday,” said McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl.

“We didn’t suffer any major disruptions and acquired a lot of data.

“This track sets plenty of challenges for the team.

“For the drivers, it’s always a challenge with the low grip and the walls, for the engineers it’s the tough choices on choosing the best rear wing level.

“The tyre allocation this year is interesting too, with both the soft and medium compounds having high degradation.

“However, we had an encouraging day, and the car looks to be in good shape.

“We’re looking forward to building from here for a positive qualifying session tomorrow, and a good race on Sunday.”

Qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix gets underway at 22:00 AEST this evening.

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