MELBOURNE, Australia — Red Bull drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen agree their race pace is almost on par with Australian Grand Prix winners Ferrari despite failing to reach the podium at the season-opening race.
Ricciardo, who started eighth after copping a three-place grid penalty for a speeding infringement during FP2, finished less than a second behind third-placed Kimi Raikkonen and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 54 as he stalked the Finn in the closing stages. Ricciardo was pleased with Red Bull’s performance relative to Ferrari and believes it is a sign of things to come in the early races of 2018.
« I think we were very close to Ferrari’s pace and hopefully that’s representative moving forward, » Ricciardo said. « [We set] the fastest lap so I think we were one of the quickest cars on track today. Even at the end I could see Lewis, he was pretty close to us.
« I think we still have got to find pace on one lap but the race pace is good. Really good signs for things to come in the next few weeks. »
Verstappen agreed that there was pace in the car but struggled in his race after suffering minor damage in the opening laps, something he put down to a lack of balance in his RB14 car.
« We found out after four or five laps that something broke off the car, » said Verstappen. « It caught me out at Turn 1 so I spun.
« As soon as we were in clean air it was alright, the pace was good. We don’t need to worry, we just need to focus on getting a clean qualifying and in the race everything should sort itself out. »