- Red Bull
Ricciardo pleased with 12 months of growth
Daniel Ricciardo says he and Red Bull enter the Australian Grand Prix with far greater confidence than last year despite a rather indifferent winter testing campaign.
Red Bull's winter last season was a disaster and it entered the Melbourne race as one of the worst prepared teams on the grid in terms of mileage. The team avoided major issues this time around but did little to grab headlines on race pace or over one lap.
However Ricciardo is happy with the progression made by the team and by himself on a personal level over the last year.
"I think if you look back at last year, for sure we're in a better position," Ricciardo said. "I think the times we put down in testing hasn't really shown that yet but we're coming here this weekend with a lot more confidence and reliability. We've actually got a plan for Sunday whereas last year it was just put the car on track and hope to see the chequered flag.
"Within the team there's a lot more that's progressed since then with myself. I've moved along, I feel I'm a more evolved driver and have a bigger impact in the team having spent 12 months here now. It's all there on the table ready for us to use and pursue to put up another strong fight. To be honest the vibe is still good, still strong. From what I've seen the team definitely wants to get back on top. It was an off year for them from their standards last year and I don't think we're too keen to let Mercedes get too far away."
Mercedes looks to be clear favourite once again after a strong showing in the final winter test but Ricciardo says the fight behind is likely to be more intense and closer to the front than last year.
"It looks pretty close within that group. We'll see what happens on track but it does look like the Merc's have a bit of pace. But for that last spot on the podium it looks pretty close between us, Ferrari and Williams and I'm sure there will be a few other players coming into the mix.
"We'll see everyone on track like for like this weekend and I think that's what's going to be exciting. We've been asked so many questions, 'where do you think you stand', but testing doesn't really show everything. What it did show was that Merc's are quick but it's pretty close behind them."