Red Bull Formula 1 drivers banking on wet Australian GP qualifying

Red Bull Formula 1 duo Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo think the forecast wet weather for Australian Grand Prix qualifying will boost their chances of taking the fight to Mercedes

Red Bull Formula 1 drivers banking on wet Australian GP qualifying

Verstappen was the closest challenger to Mercedes on Friday in Melbourne, just 0.127 seconds adrift of pacesetter Lewis Hamilton in second practice at the end of an encouraging first day.

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.

Ricciardo, who qualified on the front row in the rain-hit qualifying session for the 2014 Australian GP, said: "We always enjoy some wet weather - it just evens everything out.

"Today in the dry we didn't look too bad which is good, but the wet will give us a bit more a chance.

"The last wet qualifying we had here I think was 2014. That was not too bad, so hopefully we will try to do that again."

Verstappen added: "It is not so engine dependent in the wet, and it is a bit more tricky to go on power. Our car normally works quite well in the wet and I enjoy it as well, so hopefully tomorrow will be wet."

Both drivers were encouraged by the long run pace of their car, as the RB14 continued to show the promise it had in pre-season testing.

"After testing in Barcelona there is always a bit of a guess about where you will be, it is not really clear. I am happy with how the car behaved today," said Verstappen.

"There is still some room for improvement but I am happy with how the whole day went. We didn't have a lot of issues which is good."

Ricciardo added that his seventh place in the standings at the end of second practice was not representative, as the mid-session red flag for debris had interrupted his qualifying simulation.

"My time was four tenths up, compared to my soft [tyre time]," he said.

"If I held that, it would be a low 1m24s, so maybe P3/P4. The balance wasn't perfect, so I wasn't too bothered."

Ricciardo explained that the balance issue emerged as he switched to ultrasofts, which prompted a return to the garage for some suspension changes.

"Even though I did only half a lap on the ultrasoft, I knew where the balance was going to go and it was going to take more than a front wing change," he said.

"We tried to do something big for the long run, but time was running out."

Ricciardo was summoned to see the race stewards after practice for allegedly having driven too fast as he returned to the pits during the red flag period.

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