Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull Racing still has 'a bit in its pockets' and he is hopeful they can be 'next best' in Austria after Mercedes.
Ricciardo finished FP1 down in 13th, but improved in FP2, ending the day eighth on a 1m 10.920s, which left him 0.113 seconds off team-mate, Sebastian Vettel in P6 – and over 1.3 seconds off pace setter, Lewis Hamilton.
“We learnt a hell of a lot,” Ricciardo said at the end of the day. “We came into the morning with a few ideas and some worked and some didn't as always on a Friday. It is never really perfect on a Friday.”
“Coming into P2 then we tried a few more things and I thought basically we improved a lot from P1,” he added. “We have still got a bit more in our pockets. But we gathered up enough information for tonight to make progress for tomorrow. I don't think we are as quick as the Mercedes'. We didn't really expect to be. But hopefully we can be the next best again.”
Meanwhile, he described the 'Ring, which is back on the F1 calendar after an eleven year absence as 'fun'.
“It is only a short lap but it is actually quite good. The circuit is fun,” he confirmed. “It is busy. We climb a lot in the first sector and then from then on we are dropping down hill for the rest. It is really nice. The second and third sectors flow very well. You can take a good rhythm through some of the corners. It is also challenging.
“There are a few places where if you put a wheel off it is going to bite. We have to be aware of that. A lot of drivers went off today – myself included. I think everyone will be right on the edge for qualifying.”
Asked about his spin coming out of the final corner, which was very similar to that suffered by team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, Ricciardo replied: “I didn't realise he had done the same actually, but worse. I think basically the astro turf was a bit damp and normally you can sometimes get away with being full over it, but it was pretty slippery and it just sucked us onto the grass, which I think was a bit damp as well.”
“It was a little bit bumpy and threw the car around. But it was just an error from both of us,” he added.
So what can Red Bull do on Saturday and can they close the giant one second plus gap to Mercedes?
“Each race we hope we are going to close. But at least today it [the gap] is still there [and not bigger]. I think we have a bit more time to find tomorrow, hopefully more than they do. I think we will close the gap. It won't be over a second tomorrow. But I guess the best thing for us is to make sure we are in front of the others and try and be the next best. If we get it all right we can definitely be top-five [in qualifying]. To be top-three looks like it will be more challenging this weekend. But still I believe we can get there. Let's aim for at least top-five and anything better we will be happy with.”