Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull on course to challenge Mercedes at Monaco GP
World Champions only two tenths back on rivals in dry P1
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 23/05/14 8:54am
With the results of Thursday afternoon's practice session in the Principality - when Ferrari's Fernando Alonso set the pace - clouded by lunchtime rain, it is therefore the timesheet and data from the dry Practice One that is set to be poured over by teams over Friday's 'rest day' and into the weekend as they gear up for final practice and qualifying.
While Mercedes still claimed their seemingly obligatory one-two in P1, Ricciardo ended up just 0.235s behind pacesetter Lewis Hamilton, a significantly smaller margin between F1's top two teams than two weeks ago in Spain.
Red Bull have been expected to be far closer to the championship leaders in Monaco owing to the venue's lack of straights and Ricciardo, who looked particularly at ease around the twisty lap, is feeling confident they have started on the right foot as they attempt to halt Mercedes' pole and victory run.
"The afternoon unfortunately we can't look into too much - but the morning went well," the Australian told Sky Sports News.
"It's still early but we seem to be there or thereabouts with them [Mercedes]. A few little tweaks over the next 24 hours and for Saturday, if we get it the way we want, we'll give them a run."
World Champion Sebastian Vettel finished two places and half a second back on his team-mate in Practice One, before outpacing him in the late slick-tyre laps in P2 to finish third. The German said he saw enough to declare that Red Bull had improved their car since Barcelona.
"Not that many laps today but I feel good," Vettel said. "It was limited what you could learn but I think we improved the car slightly - at least it felt that way from the morning.
"It's important round here to feel confident in the car because then you can push to the limit."
Vettel, meanwhile, appeared unmoved by the news that Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey had committed his 'foreseeable future' to the quadruple title winners on Friday.
"There was a lot of stories obviously before and now he's said he will stay," the German said.
"He's an important part of the team but as I said many times, there's a lot of other people that are very important to us as well and responsible for the success we've had and hopefully responsible for the success we will have in the future."