Daniel Ricciardo says he still has faith in Red Bull despite missing out on victory in the Monaco Grand Prix due to a long pitstop after the team made a late decision to change his tyre strategy.
Ricciardo told the team to save its apologies over the radio in Monaco and said on the podium that he had been “screwed”. The pitstop drama last time out followed Red Bull switching the 26-year-old to a three-stop strategy that he felt cost him victory in the Spanish Grand Prix, which was eventually won by his teammate Max Verstappen.
He said: “After Monaco I was happy to keep some distance for a few days and for myself it probably wasn’t healthy to just address it straightaway. For a few days I was upset and obviously ruing some missed opportunities but it’s one of those things. It happens and it’s unfortunate that it happened back-to-back and that expanded the feelings and emotion a lot more.
“But I’ve moved on [and] I’ve still obviously got a lot of faith in the team and I don’t doubt things with them moving forward. For me it’s really important to execute a perfect weekend this weekend, from my side and from the team’s side, and get back on track.
“We’ve got a good car, we’ve got good material, it’s [about] really trying to maximise it. The last four weekends I’ve left Sunday feeling like I should have got more so this weekend is really [about] trying to leave Sunday knowing that we maximised everything from both sides.”
Ricciardo, who is currently third in the drivers’ championship, explained how he had eventually discussed the Monaco strategy calls with Red Bull’s team boss Christian Horner and his engineer.
He said: “It was all over the phone. I let it cool and then spoke to Christian and spoke to my engineer. Christian just explained, obviously apologised on everyone’s behalf, and explained what went down, why there was confusion and why the tyres weren’t ready.
“Then I spoke to Simon, my engineer, later in the week after they had got the chance to spend some days in the factory to hear what they’d put in place.
“I knew they were going to take it seriously because it was a big disappointment for all of us, but I’ve been assured that if we’re in the same position again then it won’t happen. That was obviously what I needed and wanted to hear.
The Australian driver also explained the new procedures Red Bull has developed to try and avoid the situation happening again at future F1 races.
He said: “There’s going to be some new software they’ve put in for strategy now and some live stuff during the race that can make us more prepared. And if there some late calls again, to make sure that everything is put in place.”
Championship fight “still a long shot”
Ricciardo is 40 points behind championship leader Nico Rosberg, but if he had emerged victorious in both Barcelona and Monaco he would have 86 points and only be 20 adrift of the German.
The three-time F1 winner also lost points due to a puncture while leading the Chinese Grand Prix and had his race ruined by the first corner crash at Russian Grand Prix, which was caused by his then teammate, Daniil Kvyat.
Although Ricciardo explained he was still not thinking about a possible title fight this season, he backed himself to put in a serious challenge if Red Bull can maintain its current level of competitiveness.
He said: “Coming into the season [I] didn’t expect to be third in the championship after so many races in. We’ve seen no points in Russia and could have got more in China without the puncture, and [after] the last two races we could be very close to the front of the championship right now.
“I’m still not looking at that yet. I would love to be in a position in a few races time and actually say ‘yeah, we can fight for a title this year,’ that would be a pretty nice, unexpected fight and story for F1.
“This race will be pretty telling, if we can be competitive here, you never know [about title fight]. It’s still a long shot, but if we can be competitive I believe in myself – I can fight and do what I’ve got to do to put myself in a position come the end of the year. Fingers crossed Barcelona and Monaco wasn’t a one-off, I hope we can fight again for the rest of the season and I believe we can.”
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