Red Bull third best says Verstappen

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Daniel Ricciardo will again carry his nation's hopes of a first home victor at the season-opening Grand Prix at Albert Park on Sunday and it would be a well-earned victory for the Red Bull driver after a punishing week off the track.

Of his chances of becoming F1's youngest world champion this season, Verstappen, 19, said: "If I have the auto I can challenge for the title".

Daniel Ricciardo is feeling sorry.

Banged up: Daniel Ricciardo snapped off a tyre in the crash in qualifying at Albert Park.

"I had a quick look at the replay and at the data, and I was pushing but I actually didn't enter the corner any quicker than I did on my Q2 lap, so there was nothing..."

"For me so far it's been a really troubled weekend", said the 19-year-old.

"We still need to do quite a lot of work to beat them but we'll see".

Lewis Hamilton topped both Friday practice sessions for Mercedes at the Formula One Australian Grand Prix - finishing the day half a second clear of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.Hamilton, . As the result of more downforce and more grip, when you lose it it's a lot more violent and aggressive - so it caught me out.

"Hopefully tough (battles), hopefully we're fighting for victories", he said.

"We looked pretty strong this morning and then we tried a few things this afternoon but I don't think they worked in our favour", Ricciardo said.

"If Ferrari were dominating and if Mercedes had dropped back a bit we could say yes we have lost a key component".

Ricciardo's teenage team mate Max Verstappen qualified fifth but was scarcely more pleased, with his fastest lap more than a second slower than pole-sitter Hamilton's. You are pushing. We are still trying to get on top of the vehicle and all that, and still a bit of learning to do.

"It's not just in power; we built a vehicle that is efficient on the straights but it means we lose a bit of grip in cornering".

"It's a chance to create a bigger headline if I have a good race so that's what will motivate me to do better tomorrow".