Ricciardo pulls Canadian trump card
DANIEL Ricciardo might just avoid a grid penalty in Canada after all, despite the 'charred, burnt out' engine component that almost cost him the Monaco win.
Ricciardo said on Friday (AEST) he is "currently" set to avoid a penalty despite Red Bull's concerns over his engine.
The team's chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, said at the start of the week that Ricciardo was facing "some quite big penalties" as a result of anticipated changes to his Renault power unit.
Two weeks ago, Ricciardo won in Monaco despite suffering a severe mid-race engine malfunction.
But when asked if he was going to be penalised this weekend, Ricciardo said: "Currently, no".
"We're hoping that what we start with tomorrow will run all weekend and if that's the case, then no penalties," he said.
"I guess there was a little bit of miscommunication. I would much rather take the penalties elsewhere.
"We've got good momentum right now and it's a circuit where it's tricky to overtake so you don't want to be starting 10th or 15th, or somewhere down there. We'll try and survive this weekend."
A Red Bull spokesperson also confirmed that no penalty was yet on the cards, with the team to assess the car on track in the opening practice sessions.
"Obviously if something happened in practice then we'd probably have to take one, but no is the answer today," Ricciardo said.
Although the MGU-K power unit which broke during Ricciardo's Monaco victory is thought to be unusable, it is understood that the unit which Ricciardo ran at the start of the season will be re-employed this weekend without penalty. Drivers are only allowed two units per season before a penalty is applied.
Ricciardo is currently third in the world championship behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
If Ricciardo's car runs without engine trouble this weekend, the Australian is likely to serve the penalty at the next race in France.
"It could come as soon as Paul Ricard," he said. "When I heard whispers about a potential penalty here at that point I was like 'I'll take it in Paul Ricard but not here'.
"This is such a difficult circuit for overtaking and having such good momentum at the moment I think it would really take a bit of wind out of our sails, so if we can escape this weekend without it I'd rather take it somewhere else."
Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen also believed the Australian was going to escape a grid drop,saying: "I don't think so. I asked the team and he doesn't have a penalty, not for the moment."
With a grid penalty off the table for now, Ricciardo is optimistic Red Bull can build on their pace-setting form in Monaco - with their prospects set to be boosted by the introduction of an upgraded internal combustion engine from Renault.
"Every upgrade is welcome," he said.
"They are never half-second upgrades, but even a tenth is always welcome. The culmination of that and if we do get the hypers hooked up again, we could be there.
"2016 we qualified about four tenths from pole and were relatively competitive, and I think we're a bit more so at the moment. So maybe we can get within a few tenths, Pole is still a little bit of a long shot here but I'm kind of hoping everyone is forced to qualify on the hyper and then it creates a lot more strategy in the race."
Looking ahead to the weekend, Verstappen added: "We have a great car as we showed in Monaco. With the right strategy, a win is definitely possible. We have good hopes."