Daneil Ricciardo thinks a two-stop strategy will be easily optimal for the Malaysian GP with the repaved surface providing more grip and less bumps, making it easier on the tyres.
Last year’s race was won by Sebastian Vettel who made a two-stop strategy work against Mercedes’ three. The Ferrari’s trait of being easier on its tyres made their strategy successful while the other teams struggled from degradation in the Malaysian heat.
Under this year’s regulations, drivers get to pick their sets from three available sets and must use two different compounds in the race. For Sunday, Pirelli say drivers are required to use the hard compound, while they have free choice of the other. This makes the Aussie sure that a two-stop, soft-soft-hard is easily optimal for this grand prix.
“Everyone has to use [the hard compound], so at the moment it is a pretty comfortable two stop race because we do have to use the hard, that should do quite a few laps – the hard will easily do 20 something laps. So then you can split it and do a two stop quite comfortably. Someone told me I have more soft tires than maybe Mercedes, so that could help us. We are in a pretty good position.”
Ricciardo qualified behind his team mate but ahead of both Ferrari drivers and he believes the four all have a fighting chance for a podium finish as their race pace was closely matched on Friday.
“I think [compared] to where I was yesterday I am pretty happy. We made quite a few changes over night and they definitely helped me out today. I was a lot more comfortable, so looking ahead to the race that will be good thing, so it is going to be a good one with myself, Max and I expect the Ferraris to have good pace as well. So a good fight for the podium.”
“No concerns with [the starts], we’ve generally been pretty good all season at least with my side. With Mercedes, like always if you can on the start it helps getting some track position and forcing them to pit out of their window or something, but if we do have that soft, which it seems like we do have that extra soft, maybe we can rely on a bit of strategy to put some pressure on them and maybe leapfrog them at some point tomorrow. I won’t get my hopes up, but I won’t say it’s out of reach, do what we can and try make it exciting for everyone.”
Image via Red Bull Content Pool