Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo happy enough with Red Bull's practice pace

But World Champion admits Mercedes are easily ahead in Bahrain

By Mike Wise at Sakhir.   Last Updated: 05/04/14 10:25am

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Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo were happy enough with Red Bull's performance on the opening day of practice at the Bahrain GP, even though the World Champions remain some way off the pace set by Mercedes.

With Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg well clear of the rest of the field at the Bahrain International Circuit, Ricciardo ended second practice fourth fastest overall with Vettel placed seventh.

Vettel said on Thursday that Red Bull are facing a "tricky" weekend and speaking after practice, the defending World Champion seemed resigned to their current position.

"For today, I think it was a good day, a stronger day for us. It's very difficult where we are in terms of pace but it's really easy to say that we're not with Mercedes," he said.

"We had a strong day today, no issues with both of our cars; nothing went wrong, a lot of things were learned. Now it's up to us to see some improvements tomorrow."

Speaking after finishing third behind Hamilton and Rosberg in Malaysia last weekend, Vettel reckoned that Red Bull are closing the gap to the Silver Arrows. However, he stressed on Friday that it would take time.

"It's only one week," he said. "I think we've learnt in testing here that Mercedes are very strong around this track. They've proven again today that they're quite quick so it will be a long way for us to catch up but in the long term it's important that we make bigger steps than them."

Ricciardo, meanwhile, said his own performance improved after the floodlights went on at the 5.412km track, which will stage its first night race this weekend.

"I think we've made a step forward this evening but we've still got a bit more to go but not a bad day," said the Australian, who starts with a ten-place grid penalty this weekend.

"It's much easier, I guess, physically. You're not really breaking sweat now in the evening, it is a lot cooler and the track actually seemed a lot faster, so it's a win-win really.

"I think the track's really well lit and they've done a good job. I think Sunday night will be a good one."

With the track's layout placing an emphasis on good traction, Ricciardo pinpointed it as an area that Red Bull need to improve.

"There's a few things on the car but one big one in Formula 1 cars that you always want to maximise is traction, so just being able to put the power down," he added.

"Especially now with the V6 turbos, it's quite easy to spin up the rears so we'll try and get a bit more traction out of it."

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