Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo was happy with the RB14’s pace during the Australian Grand Prix, and believes that it is ‘pretty close’ to that shown by Scuderia Ferrari.
Ricciardo qualified in fifth but started in eighth position following a three-place grid penalty picked up on Friday for speeding under a red flag. From there he was able to work his way up the grid, helped by a spinning team-mate in Max Verstappen, and by the timing of the safety car, after which he was up to fourth, despite fearing that he could have lost out.
Following the end of the Safety Car period, the remainder of the race became a battle for the last step of the podium between Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen. Though he launched several attempts, the Australian wasn’t able to make it past the Ferrari, and had to settle for fourth – his joint-best finish in his home Grand Prix.
Though he was unable to overtake the Ferrari, Ricciardo is at least happy with the Red Bull’s performance – saying it’s nearly the same as that of the Ferrari.
“I woke up this morning happy because it’s race day and it’s been too long since we raced so, already before the race I was just happy and smiling,” said Ricciardo. “It’s a long wait and in the week leading up to this race, you talk so much about the race and it’s like, let’s just do it.
“I’m happy with the way I drove today and we had a very fast race car. It’s not often I sit behind someone for most of the race but it’s a tight track and one of the more tricky ones for passing. There were a couple of times I had a look at turn three but Kimi was wise to that and could see what I was planning. Towards the end I applied more pressure on him but he was able to up the pace as well.
“I think we’re pretty close with Ferrari and our race pace is strong, which I thought would be the case, so we just need to get a few more tenths out of Qualifying and then we should be looking good. Being so close to the podium and getting fastest lap is definitely an encouraging way to start the season.”
Ricciardo gave praise to the fans who flocked to the Albert Park circuit throughout the weekend, but he is now looking forward to some down time before turning his attention to the Bahrain Grand Prix in two weeks time.
“I want to thank all the fans for coming out and supporting us today and now it’s definitely time to go and put my feet up for a couple of days after a busy week!” said Ricciardo.