Daniel Ricciardo believes that Red Bull Racing is better prepared for the 2015 F1 season, and is looking forward to battling Ferrari and Williams for a place on the podium.

Heading into his home grand prix for the second time as an RBR driver, the Australian admits that reigning world champion Mercedes is probably out of reach after it testing performance suggested a repeat of its 2014 domination, but sees no reason why he cannot be pushing to join Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the podium from the opening round.

"I'm excited," he confessed, "I think, for all of us, it's good to have time off over Christmas, but then testing starts and you get a taste for it again and you just want to go racing....

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"Obviously, I'm really happy to be back here, back home in Oz, and to get another season going. There's a lot of confidence coming off last year, so I'm ready to have a good one and get on track."

Despite lingering concerns over the reliability of the new Renault V6, Ricciardo finished last year's Australian Grand Prix in the top three, only to be disqualified post-race. This time around, he's more confident in his machinery, meaning that he can focus on the battle ahead.

"I think, if you look back at last year, for sure we're in a better position," he noted, "I don't think the times we put down in testing have shown that yet, but we're coming here this weekend with a lot more confidence in reliability and have actually got a plan for Sunday whereas, last year, it was 'put the car on the track and hope to see the chequered flag'!"

Although Williams and Ferrari singled themselves out as the most likely threat to Red Bull's podium ambitions, Ricciardo is taking nothing for granted, particularly at the opening round, where unexpected result are often the norm.

"It looks pretty close, and we're in that group so we'll see what happens on track," he insisted, "It does look like the Mercs have got a bit of pace again this year but, for that last step of the podium, it looks pretty close between us, Ferrari and Williams.

"I'm sure there'll be other players coming into the mix, and we'll see on track, like for like, this weekend. I think that's what is so exciting. We've been asked so many questions, like 'where do you think you stand?' but testing doesn't really show everything. What I think it did show is that the Mercs are quick but, other than that, it is all pretty close behind them."