Red Bull hoping to gain an edge thanks to tyre management

Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo had a productive first day of running in Abu Dhabi, with both drivers pointing to tyre management as an area where they could enjoy an edge over their rivals on Sunday evening.

Verstappen was fastest in the early afternoon first session, and was subsequently pipped to the top spot in FP2 by only 0.044s by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas. The Red Bull’s power deficit will likely prohibit the team from challenging for a spot on the front row in qualifying, but come race day it could be a different story.

“It was good,” he said of his day. “Straight away from the first run I had little complaints.

“The car, definitely in the last sector, on most of the corners on the track, is working really well. So really happy with that.

“As we have seen already this season we are good at managing the tyres. I would expect this to be another circuit where tyre management is key to a good result, hopefully it plays into our hands again.

“Both long runs and short runs look good for the tyres so I’m pleased with how it has gone so far. A good final Friday of 2018, now time to focus on qualifying.”

  • FP2: Bottas puts Mercedes in charge in Abu Dhabi

Verstappen’s team mate Daniel Ricciardo finished the day just behind in third place on the timesheets, and was looking forward to his 100th outing – and his swan song – with Red Bull this weekend.

“It was a pretty good day,” the Australian said. “Hopefully it remains much the same. It looks pretty close for the moment.

“I mean I am pretty sure it will stay hot, I think the hotter conditions will help us out because on tyres, we look pretty good and hopefully we will keep this up.

“The tyres are certainly degrading in the heat which I think will help us. The hypersoft shows a bit more wear on the fronts and the ultra and super has more on the rears.

“We’re normally in as good a shape as anyone, if not better, with the tyres so it will be important to stay on top of that and take advantage during the race.

“We looked strong on the long runs today and although there is still a bit to find on the short runs, the exciting thing is that there’s more to come from the car.

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“Since Monaco I’ve been hoping for a strong weekend and now this is my last chance with the team, I want it even more. It’s only Friday so I don’t know what’s possible in the race yet, but hopefully we can be somewhere on the podium if we perform well in qualifying.”

Ricciardo goes into the season finale carrying a niggling injury at the end of a gruelling 21 race calendar of events, and he had support taping on his neck as he talked to the media at the end of the day.

“It has been a long year, but just a little tweak earlier,” he said.

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