Daniel Ricciardo has revealed how Red Bull’s RB19 inspired utter confidence, even on his first time driving it.
Having driven for Red Bull as a race driver between 2014 and ’18, Ricciardo returned to the cockpit of one of the team’s current F1 cars when he got behind the wheel of the RB19 for a Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone last summer.
Ricciardo had been signed as a reserve for 2023 by Red Bull, for both their eponymous team as well as sister squad AlphaTauri, and was given the test as a gauge of his level after being dropped by McLaren after 2022.
Daniel Ricciardo: I really enjoyed driving the Red Bull RB19
Reflecting on the test which has re-ignited his F1 career as he was promptly signed to a race seat at AlphaTauri in place of the struggling Nyck de Vries, the Australian told the Beyond the Grid podcast how he had loved every second of driving the RB19.
“It had been a while [since I had that much fun],” he said.
“Look, don’t get me wrong, I definitely had times in 2022 when I was enjoying it and having fun. It was just few and far between.
“Even if I’d come into a race weekend with my optimism and excitement, it would quickly get pulled away with just the performance, or the struggle, or whatever. It would be short-lived.”
Ricciardo’s pace in the test was such that Helmut Marko reached for the phone to demote De Vries with immediate effect, with the Australian driver explaining how he had been “on the money” with front-running pace almost immediately.
“When I crossed the line, and saw that lap time, I had that kind of relief again that I’ve still got this. It had been a long time,” he said.
Of course, Ricciardo’s experience in the test was with a particularly successful machine – the RB19 had won every race held in 2023 at that stage and, by season end, had become the sport’s most dominant car ever as it won all but one Grand Prix.
But Ricciardo was able to point at the ‘DNA’ of the machine, saying he could feel the similarities compared to the machines with which he made his name with Red Bull over five years ago.
“What made the test go really well for me is that, yes, the cars have evolved and changed so much, but there was part of its DNA, which was still what I remembered and still what I really liked in a race car,” he said.
“The part I love most about the Red Bull car is that I can just drive it the way I want to drive it. It doesn’t really explain what’s great about the car, but it explains why I love it.”
To that end, feeling the planted assuredness of the rear end gave Ricciardo the confidence he needed to push to the full extent he wanted.
“I just remember getting on the throttle,” he said.
“Once I’d got to like 50 percent throttle, I had so much faith in just smashing that last 50 percent and not having to really worry about the car or where it was,” he said.
“A fast car is not always the easiest car to drive. As beautiful and awesome as the car is, you’ve still got to drive it.
“I look at the season Max had and he’s also won races in mixed conditions, in the wet, and the car is amazing, but it’s not doing it for you.
“He’s obviously at one with it. But yeah I just loved it. I had fun and it was just good to do it again. I didn’t expect the call to be for the week later in Budapest.
“I thought it would be after the summer break, but once they said it and obviously how I felt after the test, I was like, ‘Man, I’m ready. Let’s do it.’”