Daniel Ricciardo ended day one of the Chinese Grand Prix splitting the respective pairings from Mercedes and Ferrari - and hopes that the performance can be carried over to the remainder of the weekend.

While the Australian stops short of believing that Red Bull can challenge either of F1's current top two on current form, Ricciardo was sufficiently buoyed by his Friday showing to begin thinking positively about challenging further up the order after a disappointing tenth place in Malaysia.

"It was pretty good," he grinned, "The first two [Fridays] of the year were pretty troublesome, so it was a better one for us. We got pretty much all the running we needed to do and our pace looks to be closer than at the last couple of races, so a positive day for us.

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"The car is definitely feeling better. We had a few updates and you feel the benefits from that - it's always nice when they bolt new bits onto the car. Driveability on Renault's side is getting better, so it's positive. We obviously have some more steps to take, but we're at least making them in the right direction.

"Hopefully, the leaderboard isn't lying too much. I feel we're more in the mix than we were in Malaysia, so it's good. I really felt the improvements we made in P2 were good - it was nice to feel the grip increase and, obviously, we found the lap time we needed."

Ricciardo also claimed not to have suffered any of the brake issues that eventually sidelined RBR team-mate Daniil Kvyat, despite the noticeable presence of fans to cool the offending items between runs.

"From our side, it was okay," he maintained, "I actually don't know [Kvyat]'s issue yet - I drove past and saw a bit of smoke out of the back [of the car] and didn't know for sure what it was, but mine held up alright today."

Indeed, the only concern that appeared to surround Ricciardo on day one was a belated entry to FP2, but the Australian had an answer to that one as well...

"There were a few modifications that took a bit longer than expected," he revealed, "There was a bit of a delay getting [new wings] on the car - we made a few changes between P1 and P2 and the changes took a little bit longer.

"We're going to set up a little for [straight-line speed] and then give ourselves a shot. We can't run max downforce - that's obvious for us with the power deficit we've got - so we've got to compromise a bit somewhere, probably with the aero. I think the car is behaving well enough now to handle that and we should be in that window for the race and hopefully not a sitting duck.

"I don't want to jump to conclusions yet. We looked closer, but I still think Mercedes for sure looked quicker. Ferrari, as well, is a small step ahead but we've closed that step a bit - and we seem to be a bit quicker than Williams at this stage. We always seem to come on stronger on Saturdays but, for now, we seem to be the third best team and we'll try and at least hold that."