Daniel Ricciardo’s trademark smile and grin was even larger than usual following the Aussie’s fourth place finish in his home race.

The local hero put in a brilliant drive around Albert Park, clawing his way from 8th on the grid to 4th, barely missing out on a podium finish.

But Ricciardo was especially upbeat about Red Bull’s potential, and about his joy of racing with the best.

“It was fun, definitely fun, it was so good to be back racing,” said the Aussie.

“I came on the radio more than once to express that. That joy was emphasised by having a good car underneath me.

“At the start we were able to pick cars off. We had good pace with high fuel on the option tyre. It was fun to be able to pass cars – I was enjoying that as always.

“And then I was sitting in a podium spot towards the end and hoping that the tyres would last, but I knew that they were not really going to hold on too much longer.

“I was hoping maybe Vettel and Lewis would have a bit of a battle at the front, but anyways, fourth is still a really good result.

“Our genuine pace is good and that’s encouraging for the upcoming races. We are closer than we expected.”

Among the particular strengths benefitting Red Bull’s RB12, Ricciardo pinpointed its usage of tyres, in addition to finding a basic amount of reliability which was nowhere to be found at the same stage last year.

“We seem to be pretty kind on tyres, that’s the first box you want to tick. And to be able to keep up a good rhythm throughout, and push on the tyre while having genuine pace without having to be too conservative is good.

“We passed some really faster cars, Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso, so we definitely found a little bit from the power unit and we know there’s a good step to come in a few races.

Until the update arrives, Ricciardo believes consistent points could be in the cards given the car’s current potential.

“I think we can definitely aim for more top fives until we get this update. We hope it will come sooner rather than later, perhaps around Montreal is where we expect it, and then from that point I hope to be spraying some champagne!”

AS IT HAPPENED: 2016 Australian Grand Prix 

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