Daniel Ricciardo is confident Red Bull will be able to challenge Mercedes in the Chinese Grand Prix after a difficult qualifying for the reigning world champions. 

Ricciardo recovered from a suspected turbo failure in FP3 and subsequent engine change to qualify sixth on the grid in Shanghai, less than 0.2s behind teammate Max Verstappen as Red Bull locked out the third row. 

With Mercedes struggling in the cool qualifying conditions, Verstappen was able to get within 0.2s of defending world champion Lewis Hamilton. Ricciardo is taking encouragement from Red Bull’s display and believes that while Ferrari may be out of reach, he feels his team can pose a threat to Mercedes in Sunday’s race, having shown encouraging pace during long run simulations on Friday. 

“I think Ferrari’s had really good pace all weekend and I can’t honestly say now that we’re going to have their pace tomorrow,” Ricciardo said. “But Mercedes definitely look within reach. They haven’t been characteristically strong at the moment this weekend. In my mind there is still a spot up on the podium for grabs, so we’ll try and aim for that.”

When asked whether he felt this was a sign of Mercedes’ dominance in F1 coming to an end or just an anomaly due to the weather, the Australian replied: “I don’t know. 

“It’s nice to see that we’re pretty close to Mercedes, but it’s not nice to see that Ferrari is half a second in front of the rest. It is what it is, we’ll crack on. We’ve got some work to do, but hopefully that starts tomorrow.”

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