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Chinese GP: Ricciardo sure Red Bull closing the gap to Mercedes

Daniel Ricciardo says Red Bull's long-run form, allied to a step forward from Renault, has left him in no doubt that the gap to Formula 1 pacesetter Mercedes is decreasing.

An impressive race simulation run on soft rubber during second free practice, which was on a par with the championship leader, has lifted hopes of a challenge if that pace carries through to the rest of the weekend.

"The team said we did alright on the long run, and we got the most laps out of the option compared to the others from what I understand," said the Australia.

"That is positive. But we will see. It is only positive if you can do one less stop in the race, so let's see."

Practice analysis: Ferrari flatters to deceive

Red Bull has introduced a few car updates for this weekend, while Renault has made progress in improving its energy recovery systems to lift its power too.

Ricciardo is encouraged by the progress that is being made, and says that sights are now firmly set on Mercedes.

"We are making small improvements," he said. "The gap is a big one so it is not going to come over one race, but I feel we have crept up a little bit more.

"It is still a big one but we are coming. Bit by bit we will get there, and hopefully before too long we will get close."

HAMILTON ON BACK FOOT

Despite Red Bull's encouragement, Lewis Hamilton has suggested that Mercedes did not show off its best form.

He said that the suspension problem that kept him in the pits for much of first practice meant that the day had been far from straightforward.

"It was not the easiest of days but the team is going to do some work just to try to figure out where we are," he said.

"It doesn't really mess up the plans. It just kind of puts you on the back foot because you don't have many laps as it is, so every lap counts."

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