Daniel Ricciardo believes that Red Bull had the pace to challenge Mercedes today before they showed their true pace at the Hungaroring.

The Australian had been gaining on both Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg near the halfway point of the race before his final pit stop, when Mercedes told Hamilton to pick up the pace if he wanted to keep first position.

After that, the Silver Arrows drivers started lapping the circuit almost half a second quicker than Ricciardo’s Red Bull.

“Once we pitted, it looked like they just turned up the volume, unfortunately,” Ricciardo said.

“At the time we looked quite competitive to Mercedes. I think I was closing on them a few tenths a lap and basically, yeah, we were looking to maybe… we thought perhaps they were struggling, so we thought we’d try and just be aggressive and try and get closer to them, basically, if they were going to pit very soon.

“And also, I think Seb [Vettel] wasn’t too far behind but I think it was more trying to fight for the win at that time, as opposed to defending, I think, what was happening behind us.”

Once the Mercedes began to pull away and Ricciardo couldn’t post competitive lap time to that of the two leaders, he fell into the clutches of Sebastian Vettel and was forced to defend his podium position.

“In the end the fight was then with Sebastian. It got pretty close at the end; did quite a long stint on those tyres. It wasn’t easy.

“The last lap, I’m sure he had DRS and, at least in my mirrors, it looked like he got quite close in Turn One. So, yeah, bit of a fight. So it was a bit of a relief actually coming across and keeping third.”

Image via Red Bull Content Pool

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Josh Kruse

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