Daniel Ricciardo admitted that he was confident that he could match Sebastian Vettel when he joined Red Bull at the start of the season.
After being stripped of his podium finish on debut in Australia and finishing outside the points in the next race in Malaysia, Ricciardo finished on the podium behind the high-flying Mercedes drivers in Spain and Monaco and now leads Vettel by nine points on the Drivers' Championship standings, to the surprise of the bookmakers at Paddy Power.
"I didn't really have any visions exactly on how it would go, what the race results would be or what the qualifying score would be - but I knew that I have some talent and obviously got a bit of experience now in Formula One," Ricciardo told crash.net when asked about his ambitions for the season.
"So, every year, even every six month period I feel I'm still growing and getting better as a driver as well so, I knew coming into the season with the team behind me and sort of a new opportunity, that I would be able to challenge Seb.
"Did I think it would be going as well as it was now? I don't know. But I knew if I had everything underneath me I'd be capable of getting the results. So, fortunately the team saw that as well, back in September, I think, last year. So, it's coming good."
Although Ricciardo challenged Lewis Hamilton for second place on the streets of Monte Carlo last week, the Australian admitted that next week's race in Canada - where he is a 16/1 favourite to win - is unlikely to give him the same opportunities.
"Montreal is still a street circuit but unfortunately the straights go on a little bit longer there so we're still down a little bit in that area, which I think everyone's aware of and we've made progress," he added.
"Whether it will be enough by then, honestly, probably not but we are closing the gap so, that's all we can ask for, for now, and just keep chipping away at it and be patient. I'm sure a bit of perseverance as well and we'll get there."