It was a couple of unfamiliar names that rose to the fore in testing of the new Formula One cars at Circuit de Catalunya, well, unusual in that the fastest testing lap times were turned in by cars without the name Mercedes attached to them.

Aussie driver Daniel Ricciardo had the second-fastest lap time, beaten on by Felipe Massa of Team Williams.

Ricciardo has positive comments on his new Red Bull car and thinks the team can make additional improvements, as they get ready for the F1 season opener at Albert Park in the Australian Grand Prix later in March.

He recently turned in 89 laps and his time was better than that of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel. Expert observers seem to think that Ferrari is the team to watch this season.

Formula One made some major modifications in an effort to restore lagging interest, so they have given drivers and teams more practice time to adjust to those modifications.

Ricciardo finished third in the season-long standings last year, winning some races along the way, but from a points perspective, it was a distant third to the more powerful Mercedes machines of Hamilton and Rico Rosberg.

According to the Perth-born Ricciardo, “I’m not sure we’re quite on the Mercedes of Ferrari level yet, but we’re getting there.”