The two Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen have ruled out a pole position challenge on Saturday after seeing the gap to Mercedes and Ferrari throughout Friday practice.
The energy drink squad topped the opening session on Friday morning, with Verstappen leading Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 0.049. However in the afternoon, the team fell over three-tenths behind Mercedes and Ferrari who remained tightly matched at the front.
With the two championship contending teams set to turn up their engines on Saturday, Ricciardo says that Red Bull's chances lie in the race: "Pole is probably a bit of a stretch in these conditions. I think this afternoon we had a decent car and we are three tenths off so it’s a bit much.
“It’s likely that the others will turn [it] up tomorrow, so pole is probably a bit of a stretch but the race pace seemed solid. All three tyres don’t seem that bad to start the race on so we will try to do something different on Sunday,” the Australian added.
After coming out on top after free practice one, Verstappen had to wait longer for his second session to get underway. The oil tower in front of the engine cracked and began leaking oil, delaying the Dutchman's track time.
However like his teammate, Verstappen is not expecting to be near Mercedes and Ferrari on Saturday: “Straight away I was actually quite happy with the car, I think that showed in the first practice that we had a good car balance,” the 21-year-old explained.
“It’s just a shame in second practice that I missed the beginning - then you are a bit out of sync and you have to go a little bit through your programme and I had traffic on my Supersoft run, which is not ideal," Verstappen continued.
"But anyway I don’t think we are going to fight for pole position. As soon as they open their engines in Q3 we are struggling. The car is in a good window and in the long runs I’m quite happy. There are a few things to improve but I am quite confident that we can fix that.”