Daniel Ricciardo expressed his happiness with the performance shown by Aston Martin Red Bull Racing on longer runs, but said he struggled on the softer compound of tyres.
Ricciardo saw his fast run in Free Practice 2 curtailed by a red flag for a loose timing wire on the pit straight and could not break into the top five in either session on Friday.
The Perth-born racer managed to get within a second of fastest man Lewis Hamilton in a closely contested afternoon at Albert Park, but said that he could have gone quicker than seventh.
“The car was ok today,” said Ricciardo.
“But I was definitely happier with the long runs than the short. My low fuel run got cut short by the red flag, but to be honest, after doing about nine turns on that lap I wasn’t fully happy with the balance.
“I think I would have been a bit quicker than on the soft tyre and moved up from where we are but I still don’t think it would have been a P1 lap time.”
Ricciardo will see his grid position compromised by three places for transgressing the minimum time set by the FIA‘s electronic control unit during the red flag period – becoming the first driver to fall foul of this rule.
The Australian’s team-mate Max Verstappen showed more encouraging pace for Red Bull, ending the two sessions third and second respectively, managing to break the Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport monopoly in the afternoon. Ricciardo said that the close competition seen so far is encouraging for teams, drivers and spectators alike.
“We still have a bit of work to do but generally it’s not been a bad day,” he concluded.
“I got a good feel for the car and I think tomorrow is going to be wet so I don’t know how relevant today will be. Looking at the times it’s nice to see that everyone seems to be pretty close and hopefully that’s the reality.
“It would be great if the top three teams and even Haas can be close as it would be a pretty nice start to the new season.”