“I know I can still do it” — Ricciardo brushes off criticism of his early season performance ahead of home F1 race

Daniel Ricciardo sitting in the press conference ahead of the Australian Grand Prix
Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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Daniel Ricciardo is adamant that he is his own worst critic after recent criticism by Helmut Marko.

The Australian was beaten by his RB teammate Yuki Tsunoda in both qualifying and the race last time out in Saudi Arabia.

This lacklustre result prompted Marko to criticise him scathingly in his Speedweek column: “There is a lot at stake this season for both Yuki and Daniel. Yuki’s qualifying was very good, and Ricciardo will have to come up with something soon.”

The RB driver is aware of Marko’s firm assessment of drivers but isn’t affected by the Austrian’s comments ahead of his home race in Australia this weekend.

“The most important part is the driving, but a big part of it is talking to you guys and obviously hearing [what is said]. When things go well, obviously, everyone’s talking positively, and when they don’t, they don’t talk so positively. So that’s part of it.”

The 34-year-old still fully believes he belongs in Formula 1 despite a mediocre opening two rounds in Bahrain and Jeddah.

“The more I get into the sport, the more I just know that I’m back here because I believe I can do it,” he said. “I believe I belong here, and it’s really that.

“When people say, do you have a point to prove or anything, or do you need to keep people happy or please anyone? I’m here for myself. It’s honestly that because I know I can still do it. I do want to make people proud, the people that support me.”

The midfield has been very competitive this season, with only fine margins for error, particularly in qualifying over a single lap.

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Ricciardo said he didn’t extract all the performance available in qualifying in Bahrain, costing him multiple positions on the grid. He was hampered by car issues in Saudi Arabia.

“Of course, I want to be qualifying Q3. I want to get the results that I believe I can. But it’s tight. We’re in such a tight midfield, and like Bahrain in quali, I knew I didn’t put the lap together I should have. And I put my hand up for that.

“That was the difference from maybe P14 to a Q3. I think the end of Q1 in Saudi from P9 to P16 was less than a tenth. So, you can very quickly look like a hero or not. And that’s where every tenth counts. And that’s where obviously I look to myself first.”

Ricciardo’s subpar start to 2024 has lessened his chances, making him a candidate for a drive at Red Bull next year and returning to the Austrian team.

Despite the possibility of returning to his old employers, the Australian is fully focused on his performances with RB.

“Yeah, it could be a wonderful full circle moment and finish my career there,” he said. “That would obviously make me happy.

”But I just approach every weekend now one by one. I think when the sport for me was kind of nearly taken away, and obviously a year ago there was no guarantee I would be back here, that kind of long-term way of thinking is just not where I’m at.

“So right now, it’s really focused on where I am. We’ve got a big task ahead. Try to do what I can there. Try to kick some butt and then see where the wind takes me.”