Fri, Sep 16, 1:55pm by Staff Writer
Daniel Ricciardo has leapfrogged Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg to be second favourite to win this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Red Bull has been steadily improving throughout the season, thanks largely to refinements to its Renault engine.
Add to that Ricciardo’s undoubted ability at negotiating street circuits, and it would appear his place on the betting boards is well deserved.
The last time Ricciardo was as heavily favoured going into a race was at Monaco in May.
The Australian earned pole position on the historic street circuit and looked head for the win before a bungled tyre change handed the lead and chequered flag to Hamilton.
“I don’t believe in much, but if there is a little bit of karma or whatever, I’d like to think I will get my Monaco win back somewhere and Singapore is a track which I will look to,” Ricciardo told AAP.
“I don’t expect to be handed a victory, absolutely not, but I feel if I work very well across that weekend then it should provide me with a chance,” he said.
The Marina Bay Street Circuit has many similarities with Monaco with its tight turns and frequent braking.
Ricciardo set a lap record on the track last year before finishing second to Vettel, and came third in 2014.
Vettel is the most successful driver on the Singapore track, winning five titles so far, while Mercedes was totally uncompetitive there last year.
“This track was very good for us last year and we have improved the car so it should be reasonable for us again,” Vettel said.
“You have to put Mercedes favourites but they had a difficult time here last season. There’s no guarantee that it happens again but if they do struggle, then everyone else will be happy to take advantage,” the four-time world champion said.
Mercedes’ pair Hamilton (250) and Rosberg (248) are separated by just two points at the top of the drivers’ championship, with Ricciardo on 161 and Vettel on 143.
Mercedes F1 boss Toto Wolff says the team has analysed what went wrong in Singapore last year and believe the problem was based on its ability to get the best out of the Pirelli tyres.
“We weren’t competitive last year and I think we understood why, made some conclusions which have helped us in the following races and throughout the season,” Wolff told reporters.
The Singapore GP gets underway from 10pm Sunday AEST.
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