Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull is closer than it expected to be to Mercedes after Friday practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

In both of Friday's sessions the lead Red Bull was three quarters of a second away from the fastest time, with Ricciardo actually faster than both Mercedes' in FP1. With Red Bull having had so many issues in pre-season and struggling for mileage, Ricciardo admitted that the team was expecting a bigger gap to the front this weekend in Melbourne.

"I think we were probably expecting to be a bit further off," Ricciardo said. "Let's see what happens in qualifying; hopefully the gap doesn't get any bigger but I think if it stays where it is - within a second - then it's better than we expected coming here.

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"We have to be pretty positive with where we ended up today. We didn't expect to come out and be quickest and we did expect Mercedes to be quickest. They're within a second at the moment so that's better than we were expecting. There's not too many cars in front of us now, so let's see if it's the same story after qualy."

Not only was the Red Bull quick, but Ricciardo and team-mate Sebastian Vettel also managed to complete 115 laps between them on Friday. Asked if he was surprised by the RB10's reliability, Ricciardo replied: "A little bit yeah!

"Obviously I knew the guys were doing everything they could since testing but I think today to get as many laps as we did we probably didn't expect that. So I'm really, really happy and pleased for them. I think this will motivate them a lot and show them that we can overcome any difficulties that are ahead of us still.

"I'm really happy for the guys, it shows that the hard work is paying off. Obviously with the performance stuff tomorrow and then the race on Sunday we'll see what happens, but all I know is that today we can be very happy with what we did."