The Australian was four tenths behind the Ferrari duo in FP2, with team-mate Max Verstappen trailing the lead SF16-h by the same margin in the afternoon.
When assessing his team’s performance compared to its rivals, Ricciardo believes Red Bull can challenge to be the second-fastest team at Sepang.
“Mercedes we don’t have to explain, we know that they will be quick.” he said. “I thought Ferrari would be a bit quicker here. With all going well we can get closer to that, we can get within a couple of tenths. So we will see on Saturday.”
Ricciardo concedes he was “a bit off the pace where I want to be” in FP2, as Verstappen seemed to have the upper hand in the race simulation. The 27-year-old remains confident he can extract more speed as the weekend unfolds, though he believes Ferrari has the edge in terms of one-lap pace.
“I think we can get closer, I think they’ll still have their nose in front come qualifying, but in the race as we know anything can happen. I don’t know what the weather forecast is, but if there’s a bit of rain we probably wouldn’t turn that down for now. We definitely want to find a bit more in the dry conditions.”