Daniel Ricciardo not in fear of Nyck de Vries treatment as potential Chinese GP lifeline arrives

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

Daniel Ricciardo says he isn't living in fear of being ousted

Daniel Ricciardo will race with a new RB chassis this weekend in China, something he says will allow him to clear his mind.

The Australian driver, who won the 2018 Chinese Grand Prix for Red Bull, returns to Shanghai still yet to score a point in 2024 after a difficult start to his full return to F1.

Daniel Ricciardo receives new chassis for Chinese Grand Prix

With Ricciardo failing to keep pace with team-mate Yuki Tsunoda over the opening handful of races to kickstart their season together, the eight-time Grand Prix winner has been given a new chassis by RB for this weekend as an effort to ensure there’s no underlying issue with the car he was given for the first races.

“Yeah, so that’s good,” he told media in Shanghai as he was asked whether the chassis has arrived in time for the Chinese Grand Prix.

“Obviously, I’ve been quite vocal about it because I’ve been obviously struggling a bit this year but I think also, to be clear, it was always the plan to introduce that chassis here.

“I don’t know if anyone else is yet but, by race five, it was obviously just putting my hand up whenever it’s ready, ‘I’ll take it’.

“It was the earliest convenience and I said ‘Yeah, let me try it’ and Yuki is happy with his so it’s one little box just to tick now and make sure that we’re all okay for peace of mind.”

While no issue has been found with the original chassis Ricciardo raced with between the Bahrain and Japanese Grands Prix, the Australian said the move to introduce a new chassis was purely to remove the variable of it being a potential issue that may explain why he’s struggled to keep pace with Tsunoda – having managed to do so during his appearances with the team last season.

“We haven’t found anything wrong with what I had,” he said.

“But, sometimes, these things might be visible, might not.

“But again, it’s just to clear my mind and habit. Regardless, even if I had my old chassis, it doesn’t change my approach to the weekend.

“I still think I can make something happen. But it’s a little bit of something now, I’m sure deep down it will help one way in some shape or form.”

Daniel Ricciardo: No concerns about being treated like Nyck de Vries

Returning to the scene of one of his most famous wins, in which he overtook Valtteri Bottas in a thrilling late-race battle while with Red Bull, Ricciardo said he’s feeling optimistic coming into the weekend with a fresh chassis and experience of a circuit at which quite a few of the current grid have never raced.

“I think it’s going to be a good thing, coming back here,” he said.

“Look, I’m coming into every weekend still very positive and confident that I can do it. I think it hasn’t happened yet to the level I’m expecting or wanting, but I’m not kind of coming into a weekend feeling like, ‘Oh, we’re on the backfoot’ or ‘Oh, can I do it? Can I not?’

“I definitely still have a lot of confidence that I can so, look, we don’t have a full practice kind of weekend but it’s not necessarily that I’m lacking a lot from the car in terms of feeling.

“So I don’t feel I need a whole week of practice to get up to pace. The fact that it’s the same for everyone this weekend, I’m totally comfortable and confident.

“Obviously, Suzuka, I missed the Friday and then I was a little bit on the back foot with just track time but the fact that it’s the same for everyone this weekend, it’s good.”

Last year, RB (then AlphaTauri) axed the struggling Nyck de Vries with little thought as the Dutch driver endured a difficult start to the season, in order to bring Ricciardo back.

With the Australian now facing the same pressure to perform, Ricciardo said he isn’t concerned about being treated in a similar fashion as he pointed to his far more comprehensive F1 experience and success.

“No, there isn’t,” he said, when asked if there are any worries about the same thing happening to him as what happened to De Vries.

“Look, anything can happen so I’m also not naïve, but I haven’t had any indication of that. Again, it probably goes back to a little bit of what I did in the past, but I think they know, even last year, I showed the signs of speed and everything that maybe I didn’t always show with McLaren.

“So we felt like we got that back out of me. Okay, for whatever reason, it hasn’t quite been there to its fullest so far this year, but I think they know it’s there. Also what we’re doing on the sim, they can see that it’s there. So we’ve just now got to put it together.”

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