Daniel Ricciardo admits he was "confused" by the strong performance of Red Bull in the closing races of 2018.
In a year when the Milton Keynes outfit had sat as the third-best team pretty much throughout, their race pace, in particular, was certainly on a par if not better than the Mercedes and Ferrari ahead.
While the Australian was unable to capitalise on it with two retirements and a grid drop, teammate Max Verstappen did with a run of five straight podiums but explaining it was tough.
“This sport is so confusing at times,” Ricciardo was quoted by PlanetF1. “Even Brazil I was amazed at the pace we had.
“At the start of the race I was coming through the pack [having started 11th], and normally you damage your tyres, but at that point, I could still see I was faster than the Ferraris and the Mercedes.
“It was hard to overtake, but I knew we had the pace. I don’t know if we got it right or the others got it wrong, but we’ve certainly been fast the last few races."
Aware of the power deficit down the straight at Interlagos, Red Bull largely focused on race pace and optimising the tyre performance perhaps offering some reasoning why, but it wasn't specific to Sao Paulo either.
“Austin when Max came from the back to nearly win. Mexico P1, and I think it was going to be a one-two," Ricciardo, who retired after taking pole and while running second in that race, continued.
“Brazil if we started at the front, I think we would have won that one too.
“The car was capable of winning at all three of those races. It just seems like it has been an accumulation over the year.”
For Ricciardo though, any benefit Red Bull get from the gains going into next year don't mean anything as he now heads off to Renault for 2019.
Asked if that move had impacted how the team worked with him in the closing races, he gave an honest answer.
“I probably wouldn’t know anyway! This sport’s so complex," he smiled.
“But they know their strengths. I think the aero this year has come on really strong, but even the whole geometry, suspension of the car.
“You watch the onboards of the other cars and see the other drivers’ helmets move a lot, and ours are quite still.
“Everything, the whole compliance of the car they’ve really nailed this year. I don’t know the details but I think that’s also one of the strong points of the team.”
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