McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has set his sights on getting past Pierre Gasly at the start of Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix after the AlphaTauri driver claimed a fifth-place starting position on Saturday.
Gasly progressed into Q3 on the Medium compound, meaning he will start the race on a harder but more durable tyre compared to Ricciardo, who will use the Soft compound from sixth on the grid.
As a result, Ricciardo thinks the Frenchman will be “vulnerable” at the start of the race, when Ricciardo plans to make his overtake.
“It is going to be very unpredictable,” Ricciardo said. “I am sure that Gasly will be quick on the Medium, but maybe at the start he will be vulnerable.”
Ahead of both Gasly and Ricciardo in fourth is Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who produced a qualifying lap akin to his strong performances in 2020.
Last year, the Monegasque driver slipped back during the race, however Ferrari is confident it has a stronger car this year that will allow it to put up a sturdy fight in the midfield battle.
“Charles put in a good lap,” Ricciardo said. “He did that last year as well.
“Does he have the race pace to keep it? We are not sure. I am sure that their car is better this year. I think we have a few good fights, maybe two or other three teams tomorrow.”
During Friday practice, AlphaTauri appeared to have the fastest midfield car across the long-run pace, with Leclerc stating it will be difficult to keep Gasly behind.
“I have to say that seeing [Friday], I’m quite impressed by AlphaTauri,” Leclerc admitted.
“They were very, very quick on the race pace on Friday and they are also starting on Mediums so it’s going to be tricky but our goal is to obviously try our bit to keep our position.
“I think the top three realistically is not reachable.”
Pierre Gasly added that he is hopeful he can walk away with a strong result on Sunday: “We’ll keep it cool for now.
“There are clearly big points on the table for us tomorrow, so we just have to execute everything perfectly, with what we have learned from testing, but I’m excited.”