Daniel Ricciardo is eyeing his first podium finish in more than two years after showing “genuine” pace during practice for the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.
Hamilton bounced back to top the times ahead of Valtteri Bottas on Friday but it was Ricciardo that was making waves with a scorching lap narrowly quicker than former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.
Ricciardo — who hasn’t stood on an F1 podium since winning the 2018 Monaco Grand Prix — now sees a third-placed finish as a realistic possibility for the first time in a Renault.
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Asked what he thought his chances were of a podium, he said: “If we do what we did this afternoon, then yeah. And I think that (third) was genuine for the track conditions.
“We did a few changes through the session, and I really felt a big step with one of the changes we made, and I was like, ‘This is a pretty good race car right now.’
“So I think we can hang in there. We’ll see. If we’re here in quali, I think that would still exceed what probably our expectation is now, but I think we can still do a very good job.”
Meanwhile, the ‘black arrows’ of Mercedes reigned supreme and were one-two in both sessions.
“It’s been a positive day with small adjustments to gain a millisecond here and there,” said Hamilton.
Bottas said there was little to choose between the new softer tyres on one lap and the mediums.
“Obviously, they don’t last as long and in these temperatures they are having quite a hard time especially on high fuel,” he said.
Verstappen was fourth for Red Bull ahead of the Racing Point pairing of Lance Stroll and Nico Hulkenberg, the Canadian edging ahead of the stand-in German driver, who was replacing coronavirus victim Sergio Perez.
The Mexican had returned a positive result from a Covid-19 test overnight Thursday and missed a second successive race, allowing Hulkenberg to impress again.
Behind them, Charles Leclerc was seventh for Ferrari ahead of Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz of McLaren and Esteban Ocon in the second Renault.
On a hectic day, Wolff also vented his spleen on other issues, notably why on behalf of Mercedes he was not intending to sign a new draft of the sport’s Concorde Agreement for 2021 and beyond.
He said Mercedes felt they were “victims” and had been mistreated in the talks that had not been fair – allowing Ferrari to continue to hold a veto on the sport’s rules and collect extra revenue for their historic standing.