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Ricciardo targets personal progress in qualifying for 2018

Written by  Dec 11, 2017

Daniel Ricciardo believes he needs to re-find his qualifying form if he is to have a stronger chance of challenging for wins and the championship in 2018.

Single lap pace was always considered the strength of the Australian but this year saw him out-qualified 13-7 by Max Verstappen, the first time he had been beaten by a teammate over a full season.

What didn't help was Red Bull's own weakness on a Saturday, as a lack of special engine modes from Renault often saw them as the third best team and more generally, Ricciardo thinks his team need to be better out of the gates.

"I think to have a chance next year we need to start the season stronger," he said recently. "I think that’s where we lost a lot of our momentum, at the beginning of the season when we were too far behind Mercedes and Ferrari.

"We’ve made a lot of progress and we need to continue that momentum, which will help from a team point of view and then from my point of view I need to improve in a few areas.

"Qualifying was not up to my standard, I crashed in Australia in qualifying, in Baku in qualifying and I also made some mistakes. There were races where I was very happy but I need to keep that high level every weekend.

"It’s something I will look into over the winter and see what I can do better. I’m sure 2018 will be a more consistently strong year for myself and the team, and hopefully enough to challenge the silver guys [Mercedes].

Next year is also a critical year for the 28-year-old as he considers his F1 future in what is the last season of his current Red Bull contract. The five-time Grand Prix winner has already stated he is in no rush but, as much as the Anglo-Austrian team want to keep him, Ricciardo also has to keep proving himself worthy of a seat either at Mercedes or Ferrari as alternatives.

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