Daniel Ricciardo remaining ‘cautious’ despite RB debuting ‘decent car’ in Bahrain

Henry Valantine
Daniel Ricciardo tests for RB in Bahrain.

Daniel Ricciardo driving the RB.

Daniel Ricciardo has urged caution about RB’s pace potential, despite a smooth start to pre-season testing in Bahrain on Wednesday.

The Australian set the fourth-fastest time of anyone when he took the wheel of his car in the afternoon session, with RB moving closer to the ‘big brother’ Red Bull team and taking as many parts as the regulations allow in 2024.

There are still a lot of unique features on the VCARB-01 however, and Ricciardo stated he has a “decent car” underneath him – but tempered expectations about where they might sit in the pecking order.

Daniel Ricciardo: ‘Still a lot of work to do’ with ‘decent car’ RB have

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen set a fastest time with an ominous 1.1-second gap to the rest of the field on Wednesday, but Ricciardo was in the mix in fourth.

While testing times are a famously unreliable barometer of outright pace, given that teams are looking to conceal their true potential while run as many parts as possible, it appeared a positive start for Ricciardo and team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.

Both drivers have set a target of running in the upper midfield this season, but the 34-year-old is looking to keep a lid on those expectations for now.

“I think, start of the season, we need to be a little bit cautious,” Ricciardo told media including PlanetF1.com after the first day of testing.

“I think the target as the season goes on is the front of the midfield, but I think I would say now where we are it’s probably more in the midfield. I’m not sure we’re yet at the front, but that is certainly our target.

“I know some people are quite excited about us coming into the season, but I want to play a little bit cautious because we have a decent car, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Ricciardo was not involved in pre-season testing last year as he was on the sidelines as Red Bull’s third driver, after his abrupt exit from McLaren.

He was pleased to be back in the thick of it from the off this time however, with two more half-day sessions to come.

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“It’s nice to get the first day done and go to sleep quite happy to have driven an F1 car again,” he said.

“I think because we got out a little bit late, the programme then was a little bit rushed, so we didn’t have that much time to debrief and discuss too many setup changes.

“So tonight we’ll do that, Yuki is back in the car tomorrow morning, so try to give them as much info as possible before they start tomorrow.”

With the team set to potentially start in the midfield pack – a significant improvement compared to where they were this time last year, with AlphaTauri having struggled for points in the first half of 2023 – Ricciardo was asked where RB will be able to make the most gains on their car this year.

“I mean, it’s really going to come from aero,” he replied.

“It’s really where all us midfield teams talk about, to catch those top teams. It’s trying to find those gains in aero – it’s aero and then there’s drag as well.

“So sometimes you can find load and remove drag, and that’s really the key. I think that’s what the top teams have done really well, so that’s where we need to work on.”

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