Ricciardo Credits the W09 for Hamilton Pole

Ruben Holloway
March 26, 2018

Red Bull arrived in Melbourne with great expectations but finished behind both the Ferraris, with Max Verstappen to start fourth alongside four-times champion Sebastian Vettel.

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo was happy with the RB14's pace during the Australian Grand Prix, and believes that it is 'pretty close' to that shown by Scuderia Ferrari.

While Hamilton has insisted his final-lap improvement was not down to a switch to a faster engine mode, Ricciardo said the way Mercedes was able to turn up the power for qualifying was disheartening.

Sitting next to Hamilton at the post-qualifying press conference, Vettel said: "So, what were you doing before?"

While the laconic Finn said that "there is very bad more work to be done" by his team, the race pace of both Ferraris will be giving the team confidence that they can take the battle to Hamilton on Sunday.

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It still added further spice to the Hamilton-Vettel rivalry.

It was the flawless start to a season in which Hamilton will vie for his fifth world title, to equal Argentine great Juan Manuel Fangio. In qualifying the four-time World Champion was a stunning 0.6s clear of the opposition, after a lap of 1m21.164s in his Mercedes-Benz.

Hamilton will be well aware, however, that the Australian Grand Prix - more so than most races - is not won on a Saturday.

"At the end of the day the reason we are here is to have fun".

Ricciardo qualified in fifth but started in eighth position following a three-place grid penalty picked up on Friday for speeding under a red flag. Teammate Valtteri Bottas brought the session to a temporary halt when he crashed two minutes into the final session.

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However, nothing was going to discourage an ecstatic Hamilton.

"I think probably the most frustrating thing was if it was a lonely fourth I would have said "Alright, that's the best we can do", Ricciardo told reporters.

To date Hamilton has only converted his string of pole positions at Melbourne into two wins and just one for Mercedes. "I'm always striving for perfection and that was as close as I could get today".

However, Hamilton did not seem fazed by the one-two Ferrari challenge ahead of Sunday's 58-lap race with seemingly no protection from teammate Bottas.

"We're obviously better than eighth, so we will try and make it happen". So hopefully we can catch up.

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From there he was able to work his way up the grid, helped by a spinning team-mate in Max Verstappen, and by the timing of the safety vehicle, after which he was up to fourth, despite fearing that he could have lost out.

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