Daniel Ricciardo was delighted with his Bahrain Grand Prix performance despite coming up just one place short of returning to the podium two races after being stripped of second place in Melbourne.

The Australian turned in one of the drives of the race to recover from a penalty that saw him start 13th on the grid to challenge Sergio Perez for the final podium position over the last few laps of the race.

Having benefited from seeing the field closed up by the safety car, Ricciardo began picking off the cars immediately ahead of him, including world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel, before homing in on Perez over the final couple of laps. The pace of the Red Bull almost caught Force India on the hop, as it had advised the Mexican that he probably had enough in hand to retain third spot....

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"That very last lap, as we crossed the finish line, I got the DRS activation, so it was close, it was close," Ricciardo said, the words accompanied by his trademark grin, "We have to be very happy with the race, especially the last stint.

"Once the safety car came out and we bunched up, we were really able to race hard with the cars in front. The car came to me as the race went on - the first stint was just like everyone else it seemed, as we couldn't move forward but weren't really moving back, then the second stint was better and the last stint was spot on, so I'm really pleased with the progress we made. It was good fun battling the whole race - that's what we like doing!"

As for the pass on Vettel, it was not the first time that Ricciardo had the upper hand on the four-time champion. Earlier in the race, having started on the harder medium compound tyres, the German was asked to move over for his faster team-mate, and Ricciardo admitted that it had been good to be able to make his way to the front.

"It was good fun- I had a couple of cracks at him," he said of the moment with Vettel, "It is important [to establish myself] - Seb's been dominant in F1 for the past four years, so it's nice to come in and show that I can race at the front.

"Obviously, when you've got the car underneath you, it does feel good and gives you a lot of confidence to battle and move forward. In the last stint, I was really comfortable with the car, and that gave me the confidence to go for the moves and move forward."

It wasn't all plain sailing for the Australian, however, with a couple of close calls, including almost running into the back of Kimi Raikkonen after he locked up into turn one.

"It took me a few stabs at a few guys today and a couple of times I was a bit anxious, with Kevin {Magnussen] in turn one - and Kimi too," he confirmed, "I destroyed my tyre in one of the stints there, but I had to go for it. I knew I had a good car underneath me, I knew it was capable of being further up the grid, so it was nice to get it up back there."

Despite his run to the front, Ricciardo still finished some 24 seconds down on racewinner Lewis Hamilton, but he remains optimistic that Mercedes can be pegged back before too long.

"I think we'll get a bit more out of [our car] in the next few races and, hopefully, before too long, we can really challenge," he concluded.