Daniel Ricciardo has admitted there is no obvious reason why Red Bull Racing has started the 2017 Formula 1 season so far adrift of Ferrari and Mercedes.

Looking to maintain the momentum that took it past Ferrari and at times challenging Mercedes during the second-half of the 2016 season, Red Bull had expected the new focus on aerodynamics to play to its strengths but instead found itself down on pace throughout the Australian Grand Prix.

With Max Verstappen qualifying 1.3secs behind pole man Lewis Hamilton, Ricciardo - who crashed in qualifying before suffering technical issues in the race - was at a loss to explain the sizeable deficit and the way it increased over the course of the weekend as his rivals improved.

ANALYSIS: Super subs, Stroll's shoulders and pink helmets... it is the Australian Grand Prix Debrief!

"First practice (+0.6s off Hamilton) we looked pretty competitive and we were still keeping a few things to ourselves," he said. "So like from that point of view it was like we were pretty solid. And then if we calculate everything, the tyres, the fuel loads, because in FP1 we only had a super soft, if we add all that up then we have actually gone slower than we did in the first free practice.

"That is not accounting for any track evolution, which normally you get on a street circuit. So it feels like we lost performance, but at the moment there is not like a clear answer why."

Joking that he got 'shivers' when it was pointed out the complaints with the chassis in particular mirror those from Red Bull's tough 2015 season, Ricciardo is optimistic a disrupted pre-season period fraught with niggles accounts for much of the performance deficit to the front.

"There is still a bit to learn with the car and package, and I just don't feel that we have had enough quality time to get on top of it. We had some days in testing but there were some days a bit interrupted with this and that. We probably had two or three really good days out of the 8."

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