Ricciardo expects Red Bull improvements

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Daniel Ricciardo expects his Red Bull to be even more competitive for qualifying and the race after an encouraging start to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Both Ricciardo and team-mate Max Verstappen finished within half a second of pace-setter Lewis Hamilton in Friday's two practice sessions, only Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel separating them and Mercedes in FP2.

Just a tenth separated the Silver Arrows and the Red Bulls in the weekend's opening session, with Hamilton and Nico Rosberg keeping them at bay later in the day.

Ricciardo - who finished fourth and fifth across the practice sessions - remains optimistic about his chances in Sunday's race, though.

"On one lap we can still find a few tenths, maybe everyone else can as well, but I am confident that we can make a small step from where we were today," he said. 

"The long run today was good, and on the long run we can also find a little bit. 

"The race simulation looked promising this morning, and this afternoon we seemed to be competitive enough. 

"We can still make the car better, so I am confident going into tomorrow we can be strong. But even more confident going into Sunday."

Verstappen was also pleased with his day and has not ruled out challenging Mercedes despite their dominance in Formula One.

He said: "There are a lot of factors that will play into that [being competitive] but I think the most important thing for us is to be as close as we can in qualifying to at least race them.

"We have to wait and see, I think they are very strong and in qualifying they turn up their engines as well."