Red Bull produced a strong showing the opening day in Monaco with Daniel Ricciardo topping both practice sessions.
Daniel Ricciardo: “It is going to tighten up on Saturday but all we can do today is try and top it and we did. It’s a good start, both cars are strong. Our long run looked decent. It is not everything around here, but we seem to good in all conditions at the moment. [Pole position] is the target. The intention this weekend was to try and win – and be dominant. Today is good. It is a good start. We topped the sessions, so for now we have done all we can. We can find a bit more but we are more or less there and Saturday afternoon is going to be very close. We have a day off and I am sure Ferrari and Mercedes will start to put pressure on us.”
Max Verstappen: “We know that we have a great car. On other tracks, the straights are too long. As soon as you come to a track where the straights aren’t that long then we are very strong. Normally in the race, if you have a good start, and a clean pit stop, then it’s all good so we just have to focus on qualifying but so far the balance has been really good. So far that has been really positive, straight out of the box the lap times were there. Hopefully it’ll be the same on Saturday.”
Sebastian Vettel: “I think it was a decent day. In Monaco there’s always traffic, and today we had the red flag, so that it was a bit messy. It’s not that easy to get everything together in a lap here. I am not entirely happy about the second and the last sector. So, I think there’s something we can do better. I believe we got the best out of the tires and on Saturday it will be very close. There isn’t more pressure on this track than on the others, but I think it’s more fun. The track is very challenging and you have no room for mistakes but it’s quite enjoyable. You think twice before trying something here. However, I have a good feeling with the car. Today I trusted my car and even if I was sliding a little bit, I knew I wouldn’t have touched the barrier. We still need to improve, but generally it’s good fun driving around.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “This first day was not too bad, a pretty normal Thursday. The feeling with the car was not too bad, but this track is always quite tricky to start with, and we were trying many different things. The drive around the circuit is a bit more complicated than in other places; it’s easier to end up making a big mistake, while in a normal place you would just end in a run-off area. You need to be more careful and start pushing when you feel that everything is all right. For sure there are things to improve, but we were able to do what was planned and managed to stay out of trouble. It’s difficult to have a clear picture; in many practice sessions we have seen some cars being very fast on Friday and then in qualifying it’s a different case. Let’s wait and see what happens on Saturday.”
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s been an okay day, we didn’t suffer any damage which is a good thing. I said yesterday the Red Bulls were going to be quick which they were today. As expected, we struggled a little bit more. The car felt good in some places, in others it felt bad. We have got some things to work on, but we’re not completely in the dark; we’re in a much better place than we were last year. We’re closer to Red Bull and Ferrari than I expected, but we’re still a few tenths off. So we’ve got some ground to cover and pick up if we want to be in the fight for the win. We’ve got to keep working on the set-up and try and see if we can pull out some more potential from the car.”
Valtteri Bottas: “We know our car has a lot of pace, but it is difficult to find the right set-up for this track. If we can find a good set-up and get some good laps in for qualifying, we should be able to fight for the pole, but I think it will be the most challenging qualifying session we’ve had this year.”