Daniel Ricciardo reckons that he and Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel 'can have a little fun' in the US Grand Prix on Sunday, despite the Australian playing down his chances of success.

Although he admits that he may be forced to keep his 'General Lee' facial hair should he secure a fourth against-the-odds victory, Ricciardo acknowledges that the current RB10 is still lacking in comparison to the Mercedes-powered Williams which presents its most immediate challenge in Austin. The Australian qualified fifth fastest for the USGP, directly behind Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa and was encouraged by the fact that he managed to close the gap to them during the qualifying session.

"I think it's pretty good," he said of his performance, "We'd always love more when we're not right at the front, but were pretty happy - and I think what were most happy with is the progress we've made through quali.

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"In Q1, we were a fair way off, but we kept tuning the car - we can't do much but [tweak] front wing and tyre pressures - and I felt we found a better balance with each run, so to see the rate of progression in that one hour and see us close the gap on Williams was good. We're really close to Felipe, so it's encouraging for the race."

Despite the four cars ahead of him having a power advantage, Ricciardo is also confident that he can make use of the track's design features to keep the pressure on Williams.

"I'm definitely optimistic for the race," he confirmed, "They've obviously got some straight-line speed, but I think strategy will be more of a factor this year and it'll be more of a two-stop race, so there's some room to go with that.

"I think, as well, that the track naturally allows you to overtake, even perhaps with an inferior car. With the wide apexes, you can come from maybe a little farther back and square up the corner a little bit more... I don't want to give away too many secrets, but we've seen in past years that you can come from a fair way back and it's a good place for overtaking. I think, as long as we hang around, we'll have a go. We don't really have much to lose, so we can have fun out there."

Despite lamenting the fact that there was only one source of data for qualifying, Ricciardo also believes that team-mate Vettel's policy of focusing on a race where he will have to start from the pit-lane could pay off on Sunday.

"In a way, it's quite cool that [Vettel] has done a lot of race runs," he confirmed, "This morning, he did quite a long one, so I think, looking ahead to the race, we've probably got good info.

"[In terms of] the quali stuff, it would have been nice to have had two cars with a bit more information but, for me, it was nice to just do my own thing and learn for myself. Generally speaking, it was alright."