Ricciardo: we’re not convinced we’re in the title fight

Daniel Ricciardo says he isn’t convinced his Red Bull Racing team has the pace to compete for the championship despite Max Verstappen fending off Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel for victory at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s Red Bull Ring win was the team’s third of the season, matching the three apiece won by fellow frontrunners Mercedes and Ferrari.

The Dutchman’s victory was admittedly fortuitous, however, thanks to Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton retiring with technical problems after exhibiting superior pace early in the race.

Ferrari also closed to within two seconds of the race lead on the final lap after leaving its charge to the finish too late, concerned as the entire field was with blistering on the unexpectedly warm day.

“It’s still unknown, which makes it exciting,” Ricciardo said. “We never showed signs of speed in Austria from Friday until Sunday, and, sure, Mercedes had their problems, but even so we thought on pace Ferrari should have made it easy on us from everything we’d seen, and it wasn’t really the case.”

The win was an important morale booster for the team — it was Red Bull Racing’s first in the home country of its owner, Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz — and tough Ricciardo expects his team to stand on the top step of the podium again, he hasn’t seen enough evidence to be convinced the RB14 can win consistently enough to mount a title tilt.

“We have a chance to win on some tracks and some opportunities will arise, but I still don’t think we have the real pace every weekend to convince ourselves that we can be there,” he said. “I still think we need to find a little bit to be there on more tracks.”

“Hopefully the ones we expect to be quick on, we are. If we come fifth and sixth in Budapest, we are probably going to be pretty pissed off!”

The Australian sits fourth in the drivers standings, 50 points behind championship leader Vettel and three points ahead of Verstappen, and Red Bull Racing is third in the constructors tally with a 58-point deficit to Ferrari, making the team and its drivers only outside chances of claiming any silverware com Abu Dhabi.

The competitiveness between Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen — the former has won two races and the latter just one — is preventing either from taking on Sebastian Vettel or Lewis Hamilton, both of whom have won all three of their respective team’s victories.

Moreover, unreliability is hampering Red Bull Racing in the fight for wins. The Milton Keynes-based team has suffered five retirements over the opening nine rounds whereas Mercedes and Ferrari have suffered just two each. Ricciardo himself has retired from a third of the nine grands prix run so far.

In that light the team and drivers points hauls are respectable, but Ricciardo remained unconvinced.

“We are doing all right,” he said. “But doing all right is not enough to be there, especially because we are not dominating every race.

“We have to try and finish more. I’m very likely going to have a penalty in Germany, so the odds are against us.”

“But I still don’t think it’s impossible — it’s still too long to go to say it is out.”