Daniel Ricciardo dispels RB dark horse theory as RB19 copycat claims rubbished

Sam Cooper
Daniel Ricciardo during pre-season testing.

RB's Daniel Ricciardo.

Daniel Ricciardo has denied that RB are one of the sport’s dark horses this year and said they were “trying to make the most of what we’ve got” ahead of the new season.

Ricciardo himself had bigged up the chances of the revamped Faenza-based team, but it seems some may have gotten a little too carried away for the Australian’s liking.

Asked if they were dark horses this year, Ricciardo refuted that and suggested that there was still work to do to catch the top half.

Daniel Ricciardo pours cold water on RB 2024 hopes

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

It is not often you will catch Ricciardo in a pessimistic mood but after completing his day and a half of running in pre-season, he was not ready to accept RB as being a dark horse for the year ahead.

“I would say I think people definitely got excited from let’s say, from the outside,” he told media including PlanetF1.com. “A lot of fans were excited. I think they thought we were going to be a different version of another car from the past (Editor’s note – Ricciardo is referring to the RB19). But it’s not that.

“I think it was because it was just sort of exciting that it was going to be but no, it’s certainly not. But I think we’re trying to make the most of what we’ve got.

“I think we’ve definitely developed the car from last year. It’s hard because we brought updates in Abu Dhabi so we’re comparing it to a car with fresh updates. If we’d compared it to the car at the race before Abu Dhabi, then it looks like we made the bigger step and it’s just an evolution.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Carlos Sainz suspects politics at play as F1 problem resurfaces in testing

Up close and personal: First impressions of each F1 2024 car in Bahrain testing

“Some games here and there but still, I think if we want to be sure there’s lots of Q3s and top 10s, I think that’s certainly still going to be a bit to find.”

RB in their former guise AlphaTauri finished P8 in 2023, behind the likes of Williams, but Ricciardo was confident they could move clear of the backmarkers in 2024.

“I hope so,” he said. “I think it’s so hard because I also think we’re a little bit out of that. But do I think we’re kind of at the front of the midfield where we definitely have aims to be as the season goes on, I feel like there’s probably still a little bit more to find to get there.

“I hope to be fighting for Q3 but there’s no guarantees, it’s still a pretty tight midfield.”

Read next: Lewis Hamilton recalls blunt ‘you’re wrong’ block from Mercedes over W14 concerns