Daniel Ricciardo wary of Red Bull's rivals in battle behind Mercedes at Canadian GP

Australian, meanwhile, welcomes Vettel pace after a difficult Friday

By James Galloway in Montreal.   Last Updated: 06/06/14 10:28pm

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Daniel Ricciardo expects Red Bull's status as Mercedes' nearest challengers to come under increased threat in the Canadian GP after strong performances from their rivals during practice.

Although Ricciardo's team-mate Sebastian Vettel finished up as the fastest non-W05 in Practice Two as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg again headed the order, both Ferraris were close behind as the Italian outfit's raft of power unit and aerodynamic upgrades appeared to deliver a clear step forward around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Mercedes-powered Williams were also within a couple of tenths of the lead Red Bull.

A Red Bull driver has three times claimed the final podium berth behind the Mercedes pair since the championship leaders' run of consecutive one-twos began in Malaysia, but with Montreal's straights helping others to close the gap to the RB10, Ricciardo reckons the fight could prove tight in qualifying.

"Not concerns, but I think it's going to be much closer this weekend," he told Sky Sports F1. "If Mercedes do lock out the frontrow then I think there's a bigger battle for the second row and I don't think it's going to come easy.

"So we've got to get it right."

Ricciardo, chasing a third consecutive podium this weekend, admits he in particular needs to deliver a strong Saturday after he finished down in 12th place in Friday's second session.

Although taking heart from Vettel's performance, Ricciardo his side of the garage had plenty of work to do overnight.

"It was a bit of a surprise. We obviously hoped to be further up there," the Australian conceded.

A difficult P2 for Ricciardo saw him finish in unusual timesheet confines

"I don't feel at home with the car but at the same time we don't really feel a second and a half off [the pace]. So we've got a bit to understand. To be honest the positive is Seb put in a quick one so at least we can see what's going on there and try to see where we are in comparison, see where I need to work so we can get the car further up."

The 24-year-old also welcomed the prospect of Vettel returning to his best form after a difficult start to the season, suggesting increased competition from within would only aid his own performances. Ricciardo heads into the weekend five-one ahead in his qualifying duel with the World Champion and nine points up in the Drivers' Championship.

"If he's comfortable then it's good, it's going to push me," Ricciardo remarked.

"Today I'm too far off the pace, I don't think it's as clear as that, but that's for us to understand. But if he's pushing me that little bit more then hopefully I can get even more out of myself."

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