• Spanish GP - Race

Ricciardo sets sights on Mercedes after maiden podium

ESPN Staff
May 11, 2014 « Raikkonen fumes he is Ferrari's 'second choice' | Williams happy with successful upgrades »
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Daniel Ricciardo finally got his hands on a trophy for keeps in Spain but insists Red Bull knows it has plenty of work to do to get close to Mercedes.

Ricciardo was disqualified from the opening race of the season in Australia for being in violation of the FIA's fuel-flow limit after finishing second on track, but crossed the line third in Spain for his first official podium. Ricciardo finished 49 seconds behind race-winner Lewis Hamilton and he insists Red Bull still believes it can close that gap.

"It's really nice to be on the podium and I'm sure I'll be able to keep it this time," Ricciardo joked. "It's nice to stand back up there, I still feel a little bit awkward up there but I'll get used to it.

"They [Mercedes] were a long way ahead. I think coming into the race today we knew a boring race would be a pretty good one for us. We knew we didn't really have the pace for Mercedes. We looked like a third-place car and in the end that's what it was. We had a pretty comfortable third place and we just had to focus on getting the tyres to last two stops and that was it."

Ricciardo found himself behind Valtteri Bottas after a slow getaway but he knew he just had to stay patient and trust Red Bull's strategy to leapfrog the Williams.

"It was exactly the start I wanted. I think initially the launch felt OK but we lost a bit of traction after that. Bottas got past me. The first stint I tried to hang in there, had, let's say, a pseudo-attempt into Turn 1.

"I got underneath him but it wasn't deep enough to pull the move off and then, yeah, it was just about doing an undercut and just trying to still make a two-stop work. So from then on a pretty lonely race."

Ricciardo beat Sebastian Vettel on track for the third race in a row but he believes his team-mate proved his criticism has been unfounded after carving through the field from 15th.

"I just sort of heard on the radio that he was making progress through the field and when he was in fourth - I think he made a move in the last few laps so really good. I definitely see it as a positive for the team, third and fourth, particularly after his starting position.

"Obviously Mercedes are the top dogs at the moment but we seem to be settling ourselves nicely in that next spot and I think we've just got to now try and somehow creep our way closer. All the talk about Seb, I'm sure that was going to pass very soon and he'll get to his world champion form."

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