After a disastrous winter of testing, the Milton Keynes-based outfit bounced back and exceeded their own expectations with Ricciardo qualifying and finishing in second place.
However, he was later excluded from the season opener after his car was found to have consistently exceeded the maximum fuel flow limit. The team has now lodged a formal appeal against the decision.
“At the moment, we’re in the battle to be the second-best team,” he told Red Bull Racing’s official website. “Obviously that isn’t where we want to be but it’s exceeding our expectations of only a few weeks ago. I think once we really get into the setup of the car, we’ll be able to close the gap to Mercedes. Obviously they’re going to improve too but I think we’re in a good position to make bigger strides.”
Ricciardo described the podium ceremony as “surreal” but admitted that the exclusion “put a bit of a downer” on the day. However, he says there were plenty of positives to take away from his home race.
“Actually it’s mostly positives: I did a good job in the car and I got to stand on the Australian Grand Prix podium – and no-one’s taking the sensation of doing that away,” he said. “What happens next is outside of my ability to control but honestly, I’d rather it went down like this than have retired from the race with a mechanical problem. I’ll take a podium and a subsequent disqualification over that any day of the week.”
He believes the team can score more podiums in the early stages of the season: “Albert Park’s made me hungry to get on the podium again – and I think we’ve got a really good chance of doing it. The work we did in the winter targeted reliability rather than performance.
“It was only in Melbourne that we got the opportunity to start working on a set-up. The RB10 surprised us by being pretty competitive in the dry and very competitive in the wet. It’s going to get much better as we dial it in over the next few races and catch up with those teams that did more miles pre-season.”
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