“How will our boy Daniel go?"

It's a question that every Australian sporting fan (and there are many of us) will likely be asking ahead of the Formula 1® Rolex Australian Grand Prix, as Daniel Ricciardo carries the hopes of a nation into his fifth Grand Prix start on home soil.

The answer? That will be revealed at around 5:30pm this Sunday in Melbourne. But until then, we can look back on the recent four-day, final pre-season test at Spain’s Circuit de Catalunya to guess what might be in store for the West Australian this weekend, and for the season ahead.

What we do know is that reliability of the new matte blue-liveried Red Bull Racing-TAG Heuer RB12 appears a strong point. In terms of pace, Ricciardo should figure among a very tightly contested fight for solid points and if all goes well, possibly a spot on the podium.

While Ricciardo’s team-mate Daniil Kvyat kicked off proceedings on the opening and third days of the test, it was the Aussie who drove on the second and fourth days.




Where was Daniel on the timesheets?

Ricciardo posted the sixth fastest time of 1:25.235 using the medium tyre compound Pirelli, but a peak lap time was not the priority.

It should be noted that Williams’ Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time on the super soft compound. For a more relevant - albeit not definitive - comparison, Ricciardo was six-tenths of a second off Sebastian Vettel’s best time on the same tyre compound.


What does it all mean?

Ricciardo banked a very healthy 135 laps of running, with the team focussing on pit stop practice during the morning’s running and a race simulation in the afternoon.




Where was Daniel on the timesheets?

Once again, Daniel was sixth quickest but his time of 1:24.247 was set on soft tyres, while all of those quicker set their best laps on the super soft or ultra soft, while Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes went quicker on the medium tyre.


What does it all mean?

We know that after notching up another 123 laps, Red Bull Racing is starting from a much more workable baseline than this time 12 months ago.

Mercedes and Ferrari look set to maintain their superiority once again, but look for the Red Bulls to be locked in a battle with Williams, their Toro Rosso cousins (now powered by 2015-specification Ferrari engines) and Force India to start the season as the third most competitive team. 

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