But instead of fun, it became further frustration for Ricciardo, while Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a winning start to the season in a dream race for Ferrari. "Pole might be a stretch but I think we can be in that next little group with the right setup and the right lap in quali".
"I was still a bit surprised I was that close to Kimi", said Verstappen.
Then his auto came to a stop on the warm-up lap shortly before the race and he got out of the vehicle shaking his head. Mercedes spends $700 million annually, and Red Bull and Ferrari about $400 million to $550 million each year in pursuit of glory, well ahead of the seven other teams.
Vettel's 43rd grand prix victory was all but sealed when he pitted after Hamilton, on lap 24, and came out of the pits ahead of his Mercedes rival.
"The suspension system that was outlawed was something that we looked to develop over the winter".
A tough week for Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo ended in despair on Sunday as the home hero came to a stop midway through the Australian Grand Prix with smoke billowing out of his auto.
"Sorry mate car's done, let's get the **** out of here", Ricciardo said over the radio.
While Ricciardo endured a weekend to forget at his home event - with a crash in qualifying, a pre-race gearbox sensor issue and then a terminal fuel cell problem - Verstappen could manage no better than fifth.
His lead for about two-thirds of the race was maintained and he went on to win the famous Italian team's first race since 2015.
"It's been a long week", Ricciardo said.
"We were laps down, but getting some information - it was valuable track time".
The vehicle was quickly returned to the garage where the issue was fixed allowing Ricciardo to once again take to the Albert Park circuit, albeit a lap down on the field. It felt awesome to be out on the track this morning, I just felt I was back in my happy place and it was cool to already see so many fans on a Friday.
"I am concerned because we have very, very strict processes that for 21 races have worked beautifully so something went amiss", chief executive Andrew Westacott told Speedcafe.com.