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Ricciardo hopes to win in S’pore before it’s too late

Ricciardo hopes to win in S’pore before it’s too late
Daniel Ricciardo putting his finishing touch to an Aston Martin art car at the Marina Barrage yesterday. The Aussie has found victory in Singapore elusive so far. Photo: ExxonMobil Asia Pacific

Ricciardo hopes to win in S’pore before it’s too late

SINGAPORE — He may have finished on the podium at the Singapore Grand Prix (GP) for the past three years — coming in third in 2014 and second in 2015 and 2016 — but victory at the Marina Bay street circuit has proved elusive for Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo so far.

With the future of the Singapore GP still up in the air, the 28-year-old says he is keen to end that drought this year in case it is too late.

The Australian currently finds himself in good form heading into the Singapore GP, finishing fourth and third in his past two races — the Italian and Belgium GPs — respectively. He is currently fourth in the drivers’ standings on 144 points, 53 points off Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas in third.

Admitting that this season has been “frustrating” at times, Ricciardo told the media yesterday on the sidelines of The Art of Racing launch event — which celebrates the new partnership between Esso, Mobil 1 and Red Bull Racing — that he expects a much faster race in Singapore this year.

“With more downforce and the way the car is set up, I think we’re going to have a really fast race, and we should finish it comfortably under two hours,” said Ricciardo, who posted the fastest lap time at last year’s Singapore GP.

“But I don’t want to be overconfident and then be disappointed if we don’t get the result. I’m prepared ... and I think we can be at least on the pace of Mercedes, although I think Ferrari will be our biggest challengers in the race.

“I’ve had pretty good races in Singapore, getting three podiums in a row, and hopefully I can create my best memory here with a win (on Sunday).

While Ricciardo’s recent record at the Singapore GP has been impressive, he insists it is one of the toughest races in the F1 calendar.

“This race and the Malaysian GP, it’s so tough physically because of the heat and the exhaustion,” Ricciardo explained. “We’ve had to do a lot of preparation for this race, a lot of acclimatisation work, because it takes a toll on your body.

“It seems cool today, but I don’t know what the temperature will be during the race ... if it’s cooler than normal, then maybe it’ll push us to do fewer stops, otherwise it’ll probably be a minimum two-stop race.”

Ricciardo’s team-mate Max Verstappen says he is also expecting a tough time this weekend, although he is optimistic of finishing strongly on Singapore’s slower-speed circuit, which better suits the Red Bull car.

“I’m looking forward to this weekend, because the Singapore GP is one which is not won just based purely on pace,” the 19-year-old said.

“There are shorter straights here and more corners, and a lot can happen, with factors like the safety car and the pit-stops playing a role.

“So we just need to be on top of everything, be sharp, try not to make mistakes and maybe we can get a good result here.”