Daniel Ricciardo claims he and Red Bull head to Australia with "much more confidence" than in recent years after a strong pre-season in Barcelona.
Fed up with being uncompetitive at the start of the year, the Milton Keynes outfit started work earlier on the RB14 to ensure a better platform heading into testing, and it worked with Ricciardo completing 100 laps on Day 1 and from there has evolved with the team appearing more genuine contenders.
That is particularly good news for the man from Down Under who is yet to officially finish on the podium at his home race Albert Park and is set to start properly considering his Red Bull future in the next month or so.
"We're certainly more ready than we were last year - and probably every year before that since I've been with the team," he said after testing concluded last Friday.
"We did a lot of laps, I think the pace of the car is not bad, I think we still have some things to improve, it's normal.
"Going to the race [in Melbourne], I think we have much more confidence now."
Though it's clear Red Bull is in a stronger position than certainly this time last year, Ricciardo does still doubt whether he and teammate Max Verstappen can match Mercedes and Ferrari in Australia.
"I think we're looking okay," he stated. "I don't think we're yet the fastest car, I think we've still got to find a bit of time, but I think we'll be close enough to be in the hunt."
Speaking separately, Verstappen revealed a more specific target he thinks the Anglo-Austrian team has to meet if they want to challenge for victories.
"Once you are within three or four tenths in qualifying, at least you can fight them in the race because normally in the race it should be a bit closer," the Dutchman claimed.
"We are definitely targeting to be in those three tenths."
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