Ricciardo encouraged by Red Bull's pace despite missing out on home podium

Ricciardo in action in Melbourne
Ricciardo in action in Melbourne

Daniel Ricciardo believes there is plenty of potential in the RB14 after he battled back through the field to come fourth in his home Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Under the spotlight in the build-up to the opening round of the season, Ricciardo was disappointed to be hit with a three-place grid penalty on Friday, meaning he would start Sunday's race eighth.

But battling through the field, he was harrying Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in the latter stages for the final podium spot, vying to become the first Australian on the podium for his home race.

While Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen suffered damage to his car early in the race, dropping down the order to finish sixth, Ricciardo said he was excited by the pace of the new car but admitted he was disappointed not to be on the podium come the chequered flag.

"Being so close to the podium and getting fastest lap is definitely an encouraging way to start the season," he said. "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.

"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.

Daniel Ricciardo had to come from eighth on the grid to finish fourth

Daniel Ricciardo had to come from eighth on the grid to finish fourth

"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 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!”