Daniel Ricciardo says he knew that he would be able to challenge Sebastian Vettel from the first race of the season at Red Bull.
Following the disappointment of seeing a podium finish on debut in Australia taken away from him and then failing to score at the next race in Malaysia, Ricciardo has bounced back strongly and two consecutive podiums have left him nine points clear of his team-mate. While Ricciardo admits he didn't know exactly how strongly he would fare against the four-time world champion this season, he says he was confident he would be a match in a competitive car.
“I didn't really have any visions exactly on how it would go, what the race results would be or what the qualifying score would be – but I knew that I have some talent and obviously got a bit of experience now in Formula One,” Ricciardo said.
“So, every year, even every six month period I feel I'm still growing and getting better as a driver as well so, I knew coming into the season with the team behind me and sort of a new opportunity, that I would be able to challenge Seb.
“Did I think it would be going as well as it was now? I don't know. But I knew if I had everything underneath me I'd be capable of getting the results. So, fortunately the team saw that as well, back in September, I think, last year. So, it's coming good.”
However, while he was a close third behind Lewis Hamilton in Monaco, Ricciardo admits the Canadian Grand Prix next weekend is unlikely to offer him another chance to challenge Mercedes.
“Montreal is still a street circuit but unfortunately the straights go on a little bit longer there so we're still down a little bit in that area, which I think everyone's aware of and we've made progress.
“Whether it will be enough by then, honestly, probably not but we are closing the gap so, that's all we can ask for, for now, and just keep chipping away at it and be patient. I'm sure a bit of perseverance as well and we'll get there.”