After a promising start to the Formula One season, Daniel Ricciardo is optimistic about what lies ahead.
The Red Bull driver left the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday night smiling and full of confidence after finishing a better-than-expected fourth in a dramatic opening race.
He was at times fighting for a spot on the podium with pacesetters Mercedes and Ferrari, but was failed by arguably poor tyre choice.
His teammate Daniil Kvyat didn’t even get to race, an electrical issue on the formation lap forcing an early retirement.
Ricciardo crossed the line only behind Nico Rosberg, reigning champion Lewis Hamilton and ex-teammate Sebastian Vettel.
“It’s encouraging,” he said.
“We’re closer than we expected, and for that I’m happy.
“(We were) close to the podium, but fourth – I definitely would’ve taken it if you asked me earlier in the week.”
But the 26-year-old believes there’s still room for improvement, and he’s hoping his car will be boosted by an upcoming package update.
“We know we’ve got to hold out a little bit to get this update,” he added.
“We’re expecting it will give us that next step of performance, which will really put us closer to Mercedes and Ferrari.”
Only twice last season did Ricciardo finish fourth or better – coming third in Hungary and second in Singapore.
He next heads to Bahrain, where he’s finished sixth and fourth the past two season at Red Bull.