After failing to record a flying lap time in FP2 due to the VSC, Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo still managed to register similar lap times to Mercedes on the hard compound.
The Malaysian Grand Prix champion was left unsatisfied after the VSC came out during a quick lap on the softs, but the Australian was still feeling confident ahead of Sunday’ Japanese Grand Prix.
In fact, the 27-year-old is not only predicting a tough battle this weekend between Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari, but for the rest of the season as well.
“I expect the rest of the season to be tighter,” said Ricciardo, who finished 12th on the FP2 times.
“Here, if we get the car hooked up in qualifying we can be strong and can be close to Mercedes and hopefully ahead of Ferrari.
“But Kimi’s (Raikkonen) time was solid today. If I was able to complete that lap I probably wouldn’t not have been quicker than him anyway. So that was solid.
“Tomorrow we can squeeze a bit more out of it, but we definitely have a challenge. The top three teams will be going hammer and tong the rest of the year.
“Ferrari look good, Kimi’s lap was strong today. I see that and actually I get excited because it’s another target and another challenge to compete against tomorrow. I think Mercedes still have a bit of an advantage, particularly on one lap, but with Ferrari it looks like it’s going to be close. It should be good.”