Daniel Ricciardo might have come out on top in the battle of the Red Bull team mates, but he acknowledges the need to do better in qualifying in 2018.
This year, Ricciardo out-qualified Max verstappen on only seven occasions. When it came down to race performances he finished ahead of the Dutch driver just twice.
Only Verstappen’s early string of costly retirements ensured that Ricciardo came out on top in the points. However, he was disappointed to slip to fifth in the drivers championship after retiring in Abu Dhabi.
“I can’t deny that Max was better more times than not in qualifying this year,” he said. “And qualifying has always been a strength of mine.
“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.”
He said he hadn’t missed out by much, but that a half a tenth was still half a tenth.
“It could decide pole, it could decide a championship,” he pointed out. “We’ve got to fight for everything. And that’s good.
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“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,” he admitted.
“We keep the pressure on each other,” he added. “This year I think Max and I both feel that any mistake in qualifying means we’re going to be second best.
Ricciardo and Verstappen came into 2017 with their sights set on challenging for the title. Those hopes were quickly dashed by a string of retirements and a lack of relative power from their TAG Heuer-badged Renault power unit.
The team got to work and definitely picked up as the season went on. Now, Ricciardo hopes they can carry that into 2018 and be consistently competitive right from the start.
“I don’t want to set the expectation bar too high, mostly because I hate that phrase,” he said. “But yeah, 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.”
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