Daniel Ricciardo admitted he had ‘the fairy-tale’ finish in his mind before a late pit-stop relegated him to fourth in the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The 26-year-old was running third after a red flag period, prompted by a huge accident between Esteban Gutierrez and Fernando Alonso.
But with aging tyres, a pit-stop meant he dropped behind Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel to come home fourth - his best finish in his home race.
Speaking afterwards, Ricciardo was delighted with the way the first race panned out.
“I’m really happy,” he said. “Towards the end we were in the top three and I had the fairy-tale in my mind.
“But I’m happy with fourth. I’m really happy with the pace, we finished a fair step ahead of Williams and to come away with fourth in our first race is great.
“We were pretty kind on the tyres and we kept up a good rhythm throughout. And we passed some fast cars out there.”
Red Bull’s engine woes last season prompted the switch to in-house development at Tilbrook, powering Ricciardo to a fine fourth place in Melbourne.
But after picking up 12 points in the first, Ricciardo predicts big things from his new RB12 when they get a new engine upgrade later this season.
He said: “We’ve found a little bit from the power unit and there’s an update coming in a few races.
“We can aim for a few more top five finishes in the next races, but we hope for more when the update comes in around Canada.”