Mind games? The chassis v psychology debate in Daniel Ricciardo’s upswing

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo shuts his eyes during the national anthem at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo has yet to score a point in 2024

Inside the points before Lance Stroll punted him out of the Chinese GP, Albert Fabrega can’t say if the new chassis made a difference for Daniel Ricciardo or if it just helped his head.

Despite arriving on the F1 2024 grid as the RB driver everyone was talking up, Ricciardo being billed as Sergio Perez’s F1 2025 Red Bull replacement, it’s his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda who is leading RB’s charge.

‘Sometimes in the head of the driver’

Not only did he outqualify Ricciardo at the first four race weekends, Tsunoda was also the only RB driver scoring points as he raced out to seven whereas Ricciardo wasn’t able to get off the mark.

Declaring it was too soon to label him “sh*t”, the Honey Badger was given a new chassis ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend.

And so the revival began.

He not only out-qualified Tsunoda for the Sprint and the Grand Prix, he also beat his team-mate in the short race and was running up in ninth place on Sunday before Stroll punted him out of the Grand Prix.

But while RB haven’t revealed if there was anything wrong with Ricciardo’s previous chassis, it does beg the question was there an issue?

Fabrega says not necessarily, it could just be that the new chassis had a psychological effect on the driver.

“Sometimes in the head of the driver,” he told the F1 Nation podcast.

“So they need something like this because they are thinking that the chassis is not giving the performance that is required.

“They did a change of chassis and when the chassis is new and right, they unlock this performance.”

Podcast host Tom Clarkson “played Devil’s advocate” as he pointed out Ricciardo had always done well in Shanghai while it was a new venue for Tsunoda, that perhaps the reason for the Aussie getting ahead.

Fabrega replied: “I don’t know, we’ll see in the following races.

“I don’t have the answer for this, we will have to see on the following races if we will have the Yuki that was dominated in the first four races or if we have the Daniel that was quicker than than the Japanese.”

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As for Ricciardo, he too could not say whether his upward swing was because of the new chassis.

But for whatever reason, he felt “like we’re in a better place and everything came a bit more seamlessly.

“We did change chassis. I don’t want to jump on that and be like: “It’s definitely that’. But something didn’t make me feel right with the previous chassis I was racing.

“I would love to kind of be here in five races’ time and say that, because then it means the season has definitely turned around and I get that monkey off our back.

“We’ll see in Miami, and Imola and maybe the next few [races] if it continues.”

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