MONACO: Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton said they were stunned by the unexpected speed of Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo in early practice for this weekend’s (Monday in Manila) Monaco Grand Prix.
Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel also sees a genuine threat from Red Bull this race weekend.
“My guess is that [Red Bull] will also be strong in qualifying,” he told F1.com
Ricciardo clocked the quickest lap by six-tenths of a second ahead of defending three-time champion Briton Hamilton, with Rosberg third ahead of Dutch teenager Max Verstappen in the second Red Bull.
Verstappen won the Spanish Grand Prix in his first drive with Red Bull that clearly demonstrated he is the sport’s future star while Ricciardo wounded up in fourth. Hamilton and Rosberg crashed out of the Spanish Grand Prix in the first lap.
“It is definitely surprising how quick they were,” said Rosberg. “We expected them to be there, or thereabouts, but not that quick. We have some homework to do…”
Hamilton was slightly more upbeat.
He said: “I don’t feel like I got a great lap so there’s still time in me – not six-tenths, but still time…The gap is definitely closer than it looks. You’ll see us within tenths of a second.
“They are very much a threat — they’re very, very fast.
“I’m not surprised because the power doesn’t make a difference here and I’ve always known they have a good car.
“Did we expect them to be as fast as they were today? Perhaps not – may a bit closer.”
Rosberg added that he did not think that “turning up” the power on their engines for qualifying would be enough for Mercedes to bridge the gap.
“It’s very simple, today they were faster than us,” he said.
“We need to dig into it and see if we can find a big chunk of lap time.
“We can still turn up our engine, but we don’t have six tenths of turning up in the engine.”
AFP WITH REPORT FROM F1.COM