Lewis Hamilton warns Ricciardo not to 'rock the boat' at Red Bull
Lewis Hamilton warns Ricciardo not to 'rock the boat' at Red Bull
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo given three-place grid for the Australian Grand Prix
26 March, 2018, 01:37
Yes, and no. Yes, reigning world championLewis Hamilton picked up where he left off previous year by topping both practice sessions, but the chasing pack, led by Ricciardo's Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen, was much closer than anticipated.
The Australian will drop three places on the grid due to a penalty from Friday practice, so vehicle #3 will start from eighth on the grid.
While Mercedes' Bottas had several off-track excursions on an occasionally ragged day for the Finnish driver, teammate Hamilton seemed to have plenty in reserve, storming through the final sector on his fastest lap to cement top spot.
But by the end of the 58-lap season opener, Vettel was sporting a cheeky grin on top of the podium after his virtual safety vehicle move.
"I think they're favourites, personally", he said.
"It was the key to the win no doubt. We didn't have a lot of issues which is good".
Vettel inherited the race lead after Hamilton and second-placed Raikkonen followed each other into the pits to fit faster soft tyres by lap 20.
Mercedes blamed a computer software glitch for not warning them that Vettel had pitted.
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"This is a year which our prep's been well and good, and I really, really hope Lewis is right that we will have a chance to fight for a title and that will ultimately make me very happy and ... take my time and see what happens".
"The safety auto came out and I was coming down the straight and at the last minute I was told the Ferrari was coming out - I didn't even know the Ferrari was in".
"When I jumped out of the auto I could see some damage and I also think something broke off, so we need to investigate what that was".
The world champion had been under pressure from Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel after the first runs in Q3, but stepped it up massively on his second effort to set a new lap record of 1m21.164s.
Red Bull had lifted four straight drivers' and constructors' world titles when the Australian was promoted from Toro Rosso in 2014, but have not claimed another since, with Ricciardo winning five races for the senior team.
Now, Ricciardo laughs at the thought of his considered concealment - "even though it was only four years ago, there weren't many tattoos in our sport back then, " he shrugs.
But although both drivers are more bullish about their long-run performance than being able to match Mercedes in qualifying trim, they believe Saturday's expected rain will help them.
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