RB still in the dark over Daniel Ricciardo struggles after breakthrough Miami GP performance

Henry Valantine
Daniel Ricciardo in Miami.

Daniel Ricciardo went from P4 in the Sprint to a Q1 exit in Miami.

RB team principal Laurent Mekies said the improved performance of Daniel Ricciardo will have lifted a “huge weight” in Miami, but the team are still unsure what was “disturbing” his performances before that weekend.

Ricciardo put in a much-improved showing during Sprint qualifying in particular in Miami last weekend, qualifying and finishing fourth before tailing off in the race, scoring his first points of the season in the process.

Daniel Ricciardo lifts ‘huge weight’ with Miami GP showing

Mekies was full of praise for how Ricciardo handled his performance in the first part of the weekend, before clarifying that the new chassis given to him in China in the hope of it being better suited to him was always in the team’s plan.

Having shown glimpses of improvements before that weekend anyway, Mekies explained that Ricciardo’s performances have been “very difficult to explain” given the nature of his results, but the signs have been there from within that a strong result was on its way.

“I’m sure it was a huge weight [off his shoulders] because the US is nearly his second home race,” Mekies said to Motorsport.com.

“He did it in style with an incredible defence to Carlos [Sainz] and the McLaren [of Oscar Piastri]. It was a fantastic moment for him.

“In fairness, we had seen signs of improvement before, but it was very difficult to explain it to the world.

“Saudi was a better performance than Bahrain, Australia was better than Saudi, Japan was better than Australia and China was better than Japan.

“It had been coming in many, many small steps and we think there is more steps we can do in the next few races to help suit the car better to him.”

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On the possibility of there being a definite reason for why Ricciardo struggled during the race, Mekies replied: “Let’s just say that we identified stuff he was not happy with and took away quite a lot of the speed.

“We have tried to tick all the boxes to erase these limitations and there are a few more we would like to see ticked over the next few weekends.

“It was always planned to introduce a new chassis before race six. It was a nice box to tick on our issues with Daniel to make him more comfortable and he did better straight away in China and Miami.

“It’s a big value for a team to be able to understand and analyse what is happening with the drivers and it’s not always visible on the data.

“We are still trying to understand what it is that was disturbing him before, and it’s a work in progress.”

For Ricciardo himself, he voiced his frustration at going out in Q1 on Saturday after such a strong outing in the Sprint in Miami, which he felt played its part in how he was not able to add to his points tally for the weekend.

As a result, he believes his one-lap pace needs to improve if he is to keep up his stronger showings of late.

“Coming into a race, I’m always hopeful and optimistic and excited but I think we’re quickly met with the reality that it’s not the same when we’re in traffic,” Ricciardo told media after the race in Miami.

“We see yesterday [in the Sprint] I was able to use the pace and have a clear track and just use the downforce and the grip of the car. But today in these battles and with dirty air we struggle, and I think a lot of the cars we raced had lower downforce, so to try to attack and defend was simply just not a straightforward one for us.

“So it just goes back to qualifying – it’s so important. Obviously, yesterday I was upset with the grip I had on that set of tyres, and obviously, I still feel that way, but also, I have to always look at myself as well.

“And I was like, ‘Yeah, I could have still done a little bit better here and there.’ So I still hold myself accountable for the sessions like that.

“We just know, we’re quick, but we’re not quick enough to start at the back and chop through the field. We’re just simply not, so we’ve got to qualify better.”

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