Ricciardo optimistic as Red Bull show their speed

Red Bull showed they are a match for Ferrari in the Formula One opener, says Daniel Ricciardo, despite the lack of a place on the podium.

Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo   -  Getty Images

Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull showed they can match Ferrari's pace at the Australian Grand Prix, even if a grid penalty kept him from reaching the podium.

Ricciardo started his home race from eighth after being punished by Formula One officials for failing to slow down enough under the red flag during Friday's second free practice session, the frustrated driver describing the sanction as a "shot in the ankle".

But the 28-year-old was still able to finish fourth in Melbourne and posted the fastest lap, prompting hope that Red Bull can be competitive in the coming weeks.

"I think we're really close to Ferrari's pace," Ricciardo told Sky Sports. "We were definitely one of, if not the quickest car on track today.

"Hopefully that's representative moving forward, I think we've still got to find pace on one lap, but the race pace is good.

"I obviously tried to do all I could with Kimi [Raikkonen in third]. It's a tight track, it is tricky to overtake, but we set the fastest lap and that's really good signs for things to come in the next few weeks."

Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen was also positive, despite trailing in sixth after a tough afternoon that featured a heart-stopping spin.

"As soon as we were in clean air the pace was good," he said. "We don't need to worry, we just need to focus on getting a clean qualifying and then in the race everything should sort itself out.

"[The spin] was not ideal but, luckily, with the 360 [degrees] I didn't lose too many positions. After that you are in the hunt but you can't overtake on this track so it's a bit of a shame."

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