Daniel Ricciardo says his Red Bull had the pace to challenge the dominant Mercedes duo but couldn't sustain it for the full race distance at the Hungaroring and was satisfied to hold off Sebastian Vettel for third place.

The Red Bull driver has maintained his podium run in Hungary since joining the Milton Keynes-based squad three years ago with third place having fended off Vettel in the closing stages with the two on differing tyre strategies.

At lights out Ricciardo bore down on the two Mercedes at turn one but was squeezed back to third after running out of track at turn two.

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The Australian kept pace with both Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton as Red Bull attempted an aggressive tyre strategy by pitting Ricciardo early for his second stop.

Ricciardo says during various stints he had the pace to lead but Mercedes were able to turn up the pace when required to maintain a comfortable gap to take a one-two finish.

"There were moments where we looked competitive, compared to Mercedes," Ricciardo said. "I think once the first stint settled they had a bit more pace than us. But at the start of the second stint, with the soft, we seemed really competitive but in the end it looked like Mercedes was doing what they needed to do and their pace got stronger and stronger.

"There were parts of the race where we thought we were [quicker] but they were able to up the pace. Probably couldn't have lasted the 70 laps if I'd got the lead at the start - but what if, I don't know."

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Having realised Red Bull's pace was narrowly losing out to Mercedes, Ricciardo switched his focus to defend his third place to take a second rostrum result of the year which sees him move up to third in the F1 world championship standings.

"Sebastian wasn't too far behind but it was more about trying to fight for the win rather than defending behind us," he said. "That was pretty much that. After that they [Mercedes] just turned up the volume unfortunately."