Daniel Ricciardo: Red Bull not far off Mercedes, Ferrari

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Daniel Ricciardo believes that Red Bull is not far away from the pace of Mercedes and Ferrari after finishing fourth in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.

The Formula 1 season kicked off with Ricciardo’s home race, and he gave the local fans plenty to cheer for as he charged to fourth place at the checkered flag.

Ricciardo had been running in the podium positions before his tires began to degrade towards the end, forcing him into a late pit stop that dropped him to fifth.

The Australian quickly recovered to fourth at the expense of Felipe Massa, and was pleased with the pace of the Red Bull RB12 car throughout the race.

“Today was fun for me, it was so good to be back racing. I came on the radio more than once expressing my joy to just being out there competing,” Ricciardo said.

“That joy was emphasized by having a good car underneath me. At the start we were able to pick cars off. We had good pace with high fuel on the option [tire] and it was fun to be able to pass cars, I was enjoying that as always.

“I was sitting in a podium spot towards the end and I was hoping the tires would last but I knew they weren’t going to hold and I would have to pit again.

“But fourth is still a good result and I’m happy we’re not that far off Mercedes and Ferrari.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner praised Ricciardo, and echoed his comments about the car’s competitiveness in race conditions.

“A great drive from Daniel at his home race, he drove a competitive race from start to finish,” Horner said.

“It was always a long shot for a podium but he did everything possible today. It’s encouraging to see the pace of the car in race trim.”