Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth in the Formula 1® 2018 Rolex Australian Grand Prix and is pleased with the result.
The Australian started from eighth on the grid at Albert Park and made his way through the field, finishing 0.7s behind third-placed Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari.
“I think regardless I was always going to leave here happy today,” he said with a typical smile.
“Just to race, just to get that first one over. It's been a long time coming.
“I feel the lead-up to that first race is so dragged out and so long, it's hard to try and enjoy the week leading up to it.
“It's a bit of a tease. You just want to race. I woke up happy today, I was like 'regardless let's have fun, let's compete'.”
Ricciardo pushed hard in the second half of the race but only really got close enough to challenge Raikkonen once, at Turn 3 on Lap 38.
“It was good, we were fast at the end,” he said. “I tried to do all I could with Kimi; it's a tight track, it's tricky to overtake. But we set the fastest lap and its really good signs for things to come in the next few weeks.”
The speed of the Renault-powered Red Bull RB14 tells the Aussie that his car is close to the speed of the Ferraris.
“I hope so, I really do. I think we're very close to Ferrari's pace, I don't know about Seb. I have a feeling we were... well, fastest lap, so I think we were one of if not the quickest car on track today.
“Hopefully that is representative moving forward. We've still got to find pace on one lap, but the race pace is good.”
Even the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, who finished second, is within reach.
“It was close today, even at the end I could see Lewis,” said Ricciardo.
“I could touch it, obviously I did everything I could. I tried keeping pressure on Kimi the whole last stint then I backed off and tried again.
“I didn't get comfortable today, I really tried to make something happen. It would have been nicer to start further up the front.”
Ricciardo and Red Bull Racing now head to the second the second race of the season, the Formula 1® 2018 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix on 6-8 April.