Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo feels Mercedes will continue to dominate Formula 1 this year and has backed his team to challenge Ferrari. Ricciardo has not enjoyed the best of seasons and, despite winning two races, sits sixth in the standings on 134 points.
Having finished third in 2016 and fifth last year, it seems to be a steady decline for the Australian, who will drive for Renault next season.
Red Bull are in third spot behind the big two but there were encouraging signs in Russia last time out as both Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen scored points even though they started from the back of the grid.
Lewis Hamilton is 51 points clear of Sebastian Vettel at the top of the table and the man from Down Under sees it staying that way over the remaining five grands prix, with his team getting closer to the Italians.
“Our pace in Russia was encouraging and although Mercedes look really strong on any layout, and I think they will be for the rest of the year, we look pretty close to Ferrari,” Ricciardo said ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.
“If Mercedes remain the team to beat then hopefully we can fight Ferrari for a podium finish. Time will tell but as a fairly high downforce circuit it should work in our favour.”