Daniel Ricciardo reveals RB message after fearing team would ‘panic’ over slow F1 2024 start

Oliver Harden
A close-up shot of Daniel Ricciardo looking down as he walks down the pit lane in Monaco

Daniel Ricciardo has steadied the ship after a rocky start to the season.

Daniel Ricciardo has revealed how his bad experience at McLaren helped him recover from a slow start to the F1 2024 season, admitting he feared the RB team “would starting panicking” after a challenging first few races.

Having reclaimed his place on the grid last year, Ricciardo had been expected to make a strong start to F1 2024 with the benefit of a full pre-season behind him and the prize of a return to Red Bull Racing potentially up for grabs.

Daniel Ricciardo reassured RB after poor start to F1 2024

However, the 34-year-old struggled alongside team-mate Yuki Tsunoda across the first portion of races in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan, where he retired after a first-lap collision with Alex Albon’s Williams.

Reports after Suzuka claimed Ricciardo was running out of time to save his seat – although PlanetF1.com understands that a mid-season swap with Liam Lawson, Red Bull’s talented reserve driver, was never seriously on the cards at that stage.

Ricciardo’s fortunes have improved since a change of chassis ahead of last month’s Chinese Grand Prix, with the Australian finishing fourth in the Miami sprint race.

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Yet he remains without a point in a grand prix so far in F1 2024 going into next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, the ninth round of the season.

Ricciardo’s early-season struggles were likened to his woes at McLaren, where he was beaten heavily by Lando Norris over the course of two bruising seasons before being dropped at the end of F1 2022.

Asked if his previous struggles had helped him deal with his patchy form in early F1 2024, Ricciardo told Speed City Broadcasting: “Definitely.

“Because I’ve been through that – with hindsight and all of that, and I look back at some of the McLaren times – that’s why having some some time off last year was so important.

“There were things I was telling myself: ‘If I get back into F1, if I get a seat again, make sure I remember these things, I learn from all this stuff and don’t fall back down some of these traps.’

“That was my fear with the first few races this year.

“I felt good, I felt confident, I felt completely fine, I wasn’t second guessing myself.

“For sure I was confused sometimes why we didn’t have the pace, but I wasn’t looking [at myself thinking]:’Oh wow, have I lost it? Is my time up?’

“I was worried that the team would start panicking, so I was just dialling it home to them: ‘Guys, trust me. We’re good. Let’s just stay on course, let’s not go crazy, let’s not listen to too much and not receive feedback from everyone. We’re good, it’ll make sense soon.’

“Definitely some experience helped with that.

“You can’t control the narrative everywhere, but at least with myself, with my engineer, it was so important that we just stayed tight and blocked out a few of the things that don’t matter.”

In an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com at the recent Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Ricciardo revealed that he is “absolutely” ready to return to Red Bull’s senior team if the call comes for F1 2025.

And he is clinging to his performance in a July 2023 tyre test at Silverstone, where his quickest lap behind the title-winning RB19 would have been good enough for second behind Max Verstappen on the British Grand Prix grid, as proof that he can still cut it at the front.

He said: “I don’t think it’s slipped away. Obviously, I don’t know what will happen. Of course, I need to do some things like I did in Miami and do that more often.

“But I think last year was the biggest sign I needed when I jumped in that car and, after seven, eight months on the couch, put in the lap I did.

“That was everything I needed.

“I just saw it with the team around me. I saw the smile on Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal]’s face. It was just that big ‘what if’ and I was able to do what we all thought I could still do and that was like okay.

“Obviously no guarantees, but I would love to be back there one day and we’ll see. I’ll keep pushing for it.”

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