Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull spent Friday practice being smart with its engine usage, having being forced into another component change ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Australian has moved onto his eighth MGU-H engine element in Brazil following his retirement at the Mexican Grand Prix and is set to drop ten places from wherever he qualifies as a result. In order to avoid the prospect of facing further grid drops at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Red Bull is keen to ensure Ricciardo protects his latest power unit component change.
"This morning we didn't run full beans the whole way, we've got to get this engine through to the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi. We tried to be smart with our usage," Ricciardo explained after second practice.
Ricciardo ended the opening session in fifth, before improving to finish third quickest in FP2 and just 0.228s off Lewis Hamilton's session-leading time at Interlagos. Red Bull allowed Ricciardo to run in a more aggressive engine mode for part of the second session, leaving the five-time grand prix winner encouraged by his day's work, particularly with regards to Red Bull's pace in comparison to Ferrari's.
"This afternoon obviously on the super-softs we were able to run on a normal setting. It looked pretty good. Merc are really quick on high fuel. We seem pretty close on low fuel but they're quick on high fuel, so I think they'll have a bit more on low fuel tomorrow. But relative to Ferrari, I think we had a pretty good day. I don't think we are far off. If we can find a little something, maybe the rain, they say qualifying might be wet, so maybe I will start 11th."
In the other side of the Red Bull garage, Max Verstappen, who ended the day fifth and 0.1s adrift of his teammate, reckons Red Bull has improvements to make with its car balance if it is to challenge Mercedes this weekend.
"The car was a bit all over the place on the super-soft so that should be a bit better but we are not too far off. The long runs on the super-soft seems to be quite okay but on the softs it seems Mercedes is very quick.
"We know they are normally a little bit harder on their tyres so maybe that is why the soft works for them quite well. There are still some improvements we need to make. I think Mercedes is quick but if we can make some improvements then we will be there or thereabout."
The Dutchman said he is taking a more relaxed approach regarding his own engine situation, having suffered a spate of failures earlier in the campaign.
"I had no engine issues. From our garage there were no issues. Mine is fine today so I won't worry about it. But if it blows, it blows. It is very simple."