Ricciardo targeting encore success in Malaysia

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Last year's Malaysia Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo is seeking to retain his race crown when Formula 1 returns to Sepang next weekend.

Ricciardo won in 2016 after an engine failure put long-time leader Lewis Hamilton out of the race. The Australian then triumphed over his team mate Max Verstappen, marking the event as one of the strongest of the season for Red Bull.

"My victory last year in Malaysia was definitely unexpected," he admitted. "I really didn’t think our car was well suited to the track.

"Lewis’ problem opened the door," he admitted. "And then I held off Max in the closing stages to take the win. It just goes to show you never know what can happen."

Although not as hot and humid as Singapore, Malaysia will be another demanding event for the drivers. But Ricciardo's main concern is the nature of the circuit which plays into the hands of those with powerful engines.

"Set-up is always a compromise in Malaysia as you need a good car in the middle sector," he said. "But you also can’t afford to lose too much time on those long straights."

On paper, then, this is more likely to be a circuit favouring Mercedes and Ferrari. The same applies to the next race on the calendar in Japan the following week.

But Ricciardo certainly isn't giving up on this chances.

"I think our general pace wasn’t too bad [last year] so we might be stronger than we think there," he said. "I think we can be podium cars, probably Malaysia, Japan, Austin.

“We might need some alternate conditions to really give us raw pace to fight for a win," he conceded.

"I believe we’ll get at least one chance somewhere," he insisted. "I’m not going to sit here and say we’re not going to win one.

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