The opening day wasn't without difficulties for Renault - Nico Hulkenberg missed much of the first session with an electronics issue, while Ricciardo had issues fitting into his custom-made seat, the Australian insisting he hadn't been returning for seconds at the buffet.
Things improved for Ricciardo in second practice, at the end of which he had run another 31 laps and jumped up to eighth place - a second off the leading pace, but within a tenth of Hulkenberg.
"Of course, I'm always anxious and we had a laugh past year because I couldn't get hold of him or my chief strategist or one of the race engineers because they were racing motorbikes", he said. "The vehicle feels like it's in a similar place to where it was in Barcelona, which is positive coming to a different track", said Hamilton.
Bottas said the vehicle felt better than during testing.
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Renault's Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo were seventh and eighth, closely matched after the Australian had a tricky day with a number of delays, first due to a technical problem and then the need to adjust his seat to reduce discomfort in the vehicle.
Vettel was fifth overall following his own trip across the grass at Turn 1 early on, and there was a sense of deja vu as he was closely followed by his former teammate Kimi Raikkonen. It's how Formula One cars are supposed to be when they're wide and they're big. Feels quite odd. Seems to be something wrong.
And for Ferrari new team principal Mattia Binotto said the priority would be Vettel in "particular situations".
"It was a tricky day for us - it was probably a tricky day for everyone".
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"If you look today at how close it is, even the mid-pack are really close, so I would say even more than ever before there's even less margin for error", said Hamilton.
"If we can get that confidence and that groove back, there is a lot of lap time in that around here", he added.
British-born Thai debutant Alexander Albon also had a tough start, spinning his Toro Rosso at turn two and having a low-impact crash to lose his front wing and cause a brief halt in the session.
"I think it's really about finishing races and analysing and making sure you are getting as many points as you can, of course, but I'm not really one for needing to stamp authority".
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His best time of 1:26.655 for Williams was slowest on a day marred by the sudden death on Thursday of long-serving and well-respected Formula One race director Charlie Whiting.