While many are expecting a reduced gap at the high end of Formula 1's hierarchy as Ferrari gathers further momentum, the Red Bull driver thinks Mercedes will conserve a leading margin.
"I honestly think they increased the gap this year, and obviously Ferrari caught up a little bit," commented Ricciardo during this weekend's Perth Speed Fest held down under.
"But when Mercedes really wanted to turn it on, they could. They'll still be the team to beat next year and they will be hard to beat, but hopefully it doesn't go on too much longer."
The Red Bull senior bull admitted that his ambitions this year had perhaps been unrealistic, but also believes that with his team's engine plans now well defined next season should see a substantial upturn in performance on Red Bull racing's part.
"It should be better after 2015 was really not as nice as we expected. You'd think that in 2016, we'll start to turn it around again.
"I hate the word 'expectation', but I probably set my expectations too high for this year for the start of the year, so coming into next year, I think I'll play it down."
The Aussie also underscored the quality of his Red Bull chassis as it evolved throughout the year, insisting that as a standalone package, without its weak power unit, the RB11 was practically as good as the best.
"The chassis this year was pretty good and as we developed it, it got better and better.
"If you took the straights out of the track and if the track was just made up of corners, we would have been a lot higher up."
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