Daniel Ricciardo says the Red Bull squad has been thoroughly impressed and even slightly surprised by the rate of improvements from its power units and feels it is on equal output to Ferrari.
The Red Bull driver steered clear of trouble at Spa before keeping distance from the charging Nico Hulkenberg and Lewis Hamilton to take second place at a power-hungry circuit. This weekend F1 heads to a track even more dependent on absolute engine power at Monza where Ricciardo feels his team has little to fear against its rivals.
Over the winter, Red Bull agreed a deal to use TAG Heuer-branded engines delivered from Renault after last year's frustrations of unreliability and being down on power compared to Mercedes and Ferrari.
This season Red Bull has enjoyed a rapid improvement in performance which Ricciardo puts faith in engine gains made by Renault, while reliability has also stepped up as the Australian is only one of three drivers to enjoy a classified finish in every race in 2016.
“I think the start of the year already, we came into Melbourne not really expecting much compared to the end of last year and we already came with more horsepower,” Ricciardo said. “Then the update helped and we sort of found a little bit more since then so honestly it's been a nice refreshing improvement from both sides.
“The chassis is obviously working well and the power unit I think we're pretty much on par with the Ferrari, the 2016 Ferrari, so that's positive.
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“Obviously they made a really big step last year and it looks like we've overtaken the 2015 Ferrari that Toro Rosso has. It's good, it's going in the right direction and that's all we can ask for now, as long as we keep seeing improvements then we're going to take what we can.”
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Ricciardo is ahead of both Ferrari drivers in the F1 drivers' championship, sitting third with a 23-point advantage over Sebastian Vettel, while Red Bull takes a 22 point lead over Ferrari in the constructors' championship to the Italian squad's home event.