Daniel Ricciardo says he’s hesitant in predicting where Red Bull will slot into the Formula 1 team pecking order for 2018 having seen the fluctuation in pace from Ferrari and Mercedes.

The Australian driver completed the final day of F1 pre-season testing fourth on the combined timesheet with a best lap of 1m 18.327s and a total of 92 laps on Friday. Having seen Red Bull edge the pace at the start of the second week of testing, Ricciardo has kept a keen eye on the resurgence from Ferrari.

Sebastian Vettel ends F1 testing having set a new circuit record at Circuit de Catalunya of 1m 17.182s – albeit using Pirelli’s new hypersoft tyres – with Kimi Raikkonen going within one-tenth of that time. While the longer runs are harder to decipher without knowing fuel loads, Ricciardo feels Ferrari has shown pace to worry Red Bull as the two teams aim to hunt down defending F1 world champions Mercedes.

“We had some strong pace in testing at times but then you see others and then you’re like ‘ah, I dunno!’,” Ricciardo said. “So I think we’re looking okay. I don’t think we’re the fastest car yet, I think we’ve still got to find a bit of time but I think we’ll be close enough to be in the hunt.

“Ferrari turned it up the last couple of days. They had pretty good pace. It’s hard to say. Then you see some other teams throw in some quick times, so I don’t think we’re yet the quickest and I think we do still have some lap time to find but I do believe we’re in the ballpark.

“It’s been a better winter than last year as far as our performance went and we did a lot of laps, so we’re feeling better about ourselves than we were 12 months ago.”

Ricciardo also concedes some Red Bull experiments with set-up and balance on the RB14 may have exposed some weaknesses but is confident his team will produce a potent package for the 2018 F1 season opener in Australia later this month.

“I think in some runs we looked strong and others we struggled a bit with balance,” he said. “Looking across the field everyone had their moments of strong laps and then some weaknesses so we are trying and testing.

“Sometimes you put things on the car and it doesn’t work but most things we put on the car this week seemed to help so that is encouraging.”


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