Daniel Ricciardo admits he is expecting Formula 1 rivals Ferrari and Mercedes to close the gap to Red Bull in qualifying for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. 

Red Bull was tipped as favourites heading into the weekend due to the nature of Monaco’s twisty streets rewarding a strong downforce and chassis combination as oppose to strong engine performance and the team duly dominated Thursday practice in Monte Carlo

Ricciardo led the way in both sessions ahead of teammate Max Verstappen, with the pair exchanging fastest laps throughout FP1 and FP2 as the Australian ended the day with a new lap record having debuted Pirelli’s fastest-ever compound of F1 tyres, the Hypersoft. 

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Despite Red Bull’s impressive display, the Australian is wary of a renewed threat from closest rivals Ferrari and Mercedes in what he anticipates to be tight battle for pole when track action resumes on Saturday. 

"It is going to tighten up on Saturday,” Ricciardo insisted. “But all we can do today is try and top it and we did. A good start, both cars are strong. For sure both cars today ran really well. Our long run looked decent. It is not everything around here, but we seem to good in all conditions at the moment.

“[On Saturday] I am sure Ferrari and Mercedes will start to put pressure on us. In both sessions we were always fighting for the top place, me and Max, so you never know what the others will do, the other two big teams, but today was good. We can find a bit more but we are more or less there and Saturday afternoon is going to be very close.”

But Ricciardo is confident Red Bull can still achieve its pre-race target of a dominant performance this weekend as it bids to secure pole and victory in the Milton Keynes-based outfit’s 250th race. He claimed a superb maiden pole at the 2016 event but a botched pitstop robbed him of what would have been a deserved victory. 

“It is the target for sure [to get pole], the intention this weekend was to try and win, and be dominant. Today is good. It is a good start. We topped the sessions, so for now we have done all we can. 

“It is a place I always love driving on. It helps when you are fast, but regardless it is just so fun driving a F1 car around here. Having the hyper softs, it is nice. So that was fun. So just keeping on for the rest of the weekend.”

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