Daniel Ricciardo finally got to keep an F1 podium finish after coming home third in Spain, but said that he was just as encouraged by his team-mate's progress from the middle of the grid.

World champion Sebastian Vettel was forced to start from 15th on the grid after a gearbox problem at the start of Q3 not only prevented him from completing a timed lap, but also resulted in a grid penalty, but came through the field to eventually cross the line behind Ricciardo as Red Bull Racing proved that it was 'best of the rest' behind the runaway Mercedes pair.

"Obviously, it's really good for us," the Australian claimed, "I heard on the radio that he was making progress through the field and that he made a move for fourth in the last few laps. It's really good for the team to be third and fourth from his starting position.

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"Obviously, Mercedes are the top dogs at the minute, but we seem to be setting ourselves nicely in that next spot. Somehow we need to creep our way closer."

Ricciardo's own race took a backward step as he lost position to second row partner Valtteri Bottas off the line, and had to run behind the Williams until the pit-stops began. Once ahead of the Finn, however, he had a lonely afternoon, eventually coming home nearly 50secs behind racewinner Lewis Hamilton and 27secs ahead of Vettel.

"It was not exactly the start that I wanted," he conceded, "I think that, initially, the launch felt okay, but then we lost some traction after that so Bottas got past me.

"On the first stint, I tried to hang in there and had a bit of a pseudo attempt into turn one - I got underneath him, but I wasn't deep enough to pull the move off and then it was just about using the undercut and trying to get the two stops to work.

"From there on, it was a pretty lonely race but, unfortunately, we aren't going to catch Mercedes - at least not this weekend - so it wasn't a bad result in the end."

Ricciardo's podium - his first since second place was taken away from him on his Red Bull debut in Australia - follows on from back-to-back fourth places in Bahrain and China and lifts the Australian to fifth in the championship, six points behind Vettel, as Red Bull establishes itself as the chief pursuer of Mercedes.