SHANGHAI, China -- Daniel Ricciardo will almost certainly look to use soft tyres in Q2 on Saturday after once again struggling for performance on the ultra-soft compound during practice for the Chinese Grand Prix.
The Australian could only manage P9 in the afternoon session in Shanghai, finishing over a second off the pace of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton. While Ricciardo's teammate Max Verstappen did fare better with the fifth fastest time, it's clear the Red Bull is still struggling to unlock pace when running Pirelli's ultra-soft tyre.
"I think on pure performance runs with the ultra-soft we weren't very good," Ricciardo said. "We used it two times today and both times I wasn't happy with it. I felt like after the first sector already I had killed the tyre and the lap time didn't really improve after the first three or four corners.
"We went maybe two-tenths quicker from the soft to that, and it's two compounds softer. We need to understand what we can do better and get that tyre working better over one lap."
By using the soft tyre in Q2, a strategy Red Bull implemented in Australia, it would allow Ricciardo to run longer in the race before switching to either the medium or ultra-soft compound. However, this time the Red Bull might not be alone in opting for the soft in the second phase of qualifying.
"It's no secret that a few people are thinking of qualifying on the soft," Ricciardo said. "It's not that bad a tyre around here. The ultra-soft doesn't seem to last that long, so you might see a few yellow tyres in Q2."
Despite being unhappy with the one-lap pace on the ultra-soft tyre, Ricciardo, like Verstappen, is pleased with Red Bull's race simulation pace and believes they car is setup much better for the race.
"The race setup is better than the qualifying setup and with the soft and the medium we're more competitive," Ricciardo said. "The long runs were more competitive. We'll improve a few things and hopefully we're there tomorrow and more importantly on Sunday."