Ricciardo wary qualifying pace needs work
18 December 2017 – Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo has accepted that he needs to improve his one-lap pace for 2018 if he is to battle for the Formula 1 championship.
Ricciardo headed the intra-team qualifying battle through 2014-16, against Sebastian Vettel, Daniil Kvyat and Max Verstappen, but the Dutchman turned the tables in 2017.
Verstappen led the scrap 13-7 and qualified second on three occasions, giving him an average result of 5.35, while Ricciardo's best result was a pair of third places, leading to an average of 6.1.
With Ricciardo optimistic of Red Bull being nearer the front in 2018, having initially struggled in 2017, he is aware that honing his one-lap pace is a requirement.
"I can't deny that Max was better more times than not in qualifying this year – and qualifying has always been a strength of mine," Ricciardo told the official Red Bull website.
"So yeah, I've definitely got to lift my game in qualifying. The first part of that is to understand what I didn't execute as well this year as last.
"If [the gap is] half a tenth, it's half a tenth: it could decide pole; could decide a championship. We've got to fight for everything. And that's good.
"This year I think Max and I both feel that any mistake in qualifying means we're going to be second best.
"In the past, with some team-mates, you might perhaps get away with a little mistake here and there and still come out on top. Not anymore. We keep the pressure on each other."
On 2018, Ricciardo said: "I'm quietly confident. I don't want to set the expectation bar too high – mostly because I hate that phrase – but the way we've progressed this year has been massive.
"We've developed more than anyone else. Because of that, it's hard to think we would not start next year on the right foot."