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Ricciardo still bidding for points despite Monza grid penalties

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing, Italian Grand Prix
© XPB 

Daniel Ricciardo might face a 20-place grid penalty for Sunday's Italian Grand Prix, but the Red Bull driver is still aiming for a points finish at Monza.

“With fuel it felt pretty good," Ricciardo said after the end of Friday's two 90-minute practice sessions. He was in the top six on both occasions, albeit somewhat slower than both Mercedes and Red Bull.

The grid penalty for an assortment of power unit element changes means Ricciardo will be starting the race from the back. It means a change of strategy and priorities for the Australian.

"We still obviously want to be quicker over one lap," he explained. "But more so this weekend starting at the back, we want to be quicker on the long runs and the race on Sunday.

“We look good there," he pointed out. "We only had one lap on the supersoft this afternoon on low fuel, so we could definitely do better with that. But our priority was the long-run, and we're in a better place with that. So not bad."

Asked what his target was this weekend, Ricciardo responded: "a bag of points!" However, he agreed that finishing on the podium at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza was unlikely.

“I'll never say it's out of reach," he said. "But I've never got a podium here starting from fifth or sixth.

"Starting from call it 19th or wherever I will be, you would say the odds are against us," he admitted.

But the team is leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to get the best possible result for Ricciardo. That includes making sure he as the first man out on track on Friday morning.

"I’m just a full-blown keeno. I put keen to a new level!" he laughed. “Woke up at five this morning and I just wanted to get on the track.

“Basically just waited at the end of the pit lane until it went green," he continued. "But yeah, just to get on track first. And it was a little bit of cuteness for other reasons..."

Those other reasons are the way that grid penalties are applied by race officials. Being first out on track means Ricciardo's grid drop is applied before anyone else - a subtle but potentially crucial advantage.

"If someone had the equivalent penalty to me they would start behind me," he clarified. "We were just being one step ahead of the game."

Whether it pays off remains to be seen. At the moment, Ricciardo's best hope is that wet weather scrambles everything up on race day.

“I don't know, maybe the weather's getting delayed. It was supposed to bucket down all day today but it didn't. It might get pushed to Sunday and we'll have a chance."

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