Daniel Ricciardo reveals Japanese GP frustrations in surprise Red Bull reserve comparison

Thomas Maher
Daniel Ricciardo, RB, 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo missed FP1, before the weather ruined his chances of a clean FP2.

Daniel Ricciardo has opened up on the frustration of missing out on crucial track time ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Ricciardo ended up with a particularly unproductive day at Suzuka, having handed over his RB car to rookie driver Ayumu Iwasa for FP1, before rain curtailed track time in FP2.

Daniel Ricciardo: It is what it is

The Australian driver arrives in Japan feeling additional pressure to perform following a tough start to the season in which Yuki Tsunoda has enjoyed stronger results.

But any hopes of a straightforward Friday setting him up for a strong start to the Japanese GP weekend were dashed when he climbed into the car for FP2 as rain spat down on the Suzuka circuit.

Ricciardo had missed the first practice session, due to Red Bull choosing to give the RB car to rookie driver Ayumu Iwasa – every team is required to hand two practice sessions per season to a rookie driver, and Red Bull chose to do so for the Japanese driver at Honda’s home event.

But the decision backfired for Ricciardo, as the lack of track time in second practice means he will only have a single hour of practice ahead of the crucial qualifying session on Saturday.

“It was in the end,” he said, when asked whether it had been a frustrating day for him.

“It is what it is. We have to give up our seat for one session in the year so, obviously, Ayumu had his home track so it made sense to give him a run. So that’s fine obviously, that is what it is.

“But yeah, FP2, when you miss FP1, you obviously want to get some running in FP2 and that weather was just in the middle where it’s not really wet enough for proper intermediate running and then it’s not really dry enough to learn much on the dry running.”

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Having sat out the first half of last season as he served as a reserve driver for the two Red Bull teams, Ricciardo said it felt like like those couple of months where he had to make himself useful trackside.

“It was obviously a lot like early last year when I was spending the race weekends on Red Bull’s pit wall,” he said.

“You actually see quite a bit, we’re looking through a lot of data and you watch on boards.

“We hear the comments from the drivers. And I’m trying to then understand what exactly they need where and then I can see it in the data and relate to that.

“So yeah, I just put myself in that position and okay, now, ‘What will we do, we have one new set of tyres, what do we do, how much do we change and blah, blah’.

“So you have a little bit of the luxury of time on the pit wall, so to speak, a bit less pressure. There are some things to learn and evaluate. So it’s productive, you have to make it productive.

“Not driving is obviously not that cool, but I can still learn something on the pit wall.”

Daniel Ricciardo: RB in the midfield battle at Suzuka

With Yuki Tsunoda showing decent pace in the other RB as he set an intermediate tyre time almost a second clear of Ricciardo in the second practice session, the Australian said he believes his team is in the battle of the upper midfield this weekend.

“Obviously, the afternoon session, forget that ever happened,” he said.

“I think, in the morning, Yuki looked like he was up to speed well and was in the top 10, really all session.

“The McLarens were on a scrubbed soft by that point. I think they’ll be ahead. [Fernando] Alonso was quick, [Lance] Stroll didn’t look so but I’m sure he will be once everything’s up there tomorrow.

“So we probably look like we’re at the front of the midfield battle that we’re in, which is kind of [around] that P11 spot. Obviously, you never know what happens in qualy.

“But it looks like where we kind of expect to be so, on that note, it’s more positive than not.”

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