Mekies: Ricciardo needs “a car that he’s more comfortable with” after F1 qualifying struggles in 2024 to date

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Three race weekends in the 2024 Formula One season are wrapped up, and Daniel Ricciardo is yet to hit the ground running.

In the head-to-head battle so far, Tsunoda has edged out his more-experienced team mate.

In Bahrain, a strategy difference and team orders had Ricciardo finish ahead of Yuki Tsunoda in an optimistic chase for P11 in the last few laps of the Bahrain GP. In Jeddah, while the Japanese driver finished P14, Daniel Ricciardo finished P16 — neither anywhere near points. The Perth driver had a 40+ second stop along the way.

In Australia, however the tide turned completely in Tsunoda’s favour, as he brought home the Faenza-based team’s first points after finishing P7 following Alonso’s penalty, while the Australian driver had to satisfy himself with P12 as qualifying left him facing a massive uphill task thanks to a Q1 exit.

Helmut Marko claimed that Yuki Tsunoda had a “flawless” Australia GP weekend.

But the newly-appointed team principal of the Racing Bulls team, Laurent Mekies, claims that the car is just not tailored to Ricciardo’s liking as far as his preferences are concerned.

While pleased with the 8-time winners race pace, the Frenchman is aware that qualifying is where Ricciardo needs some help.

“The truth is that we need to give him a car that he’s more comfortable with,” Mekies said in an interview with “Yuki had a car that he was very comfortable with from FP1 here.”

“We probably reached that stage only in qualifying with Daniel, and from there you need to build. And we feel that he has certainly done that in the race.

“He was as fast as the guys getting the points today. So we will have been fighting for the points with a more decent starting position.

“It’s another positive to take home, the fact that Daniel has produced a very strong race as well, even if he was starting from the back.

Mekies stays determined that the takeaway from their trip Down Under is overall a pretty positive one for the Australian driver.

RB’s CEO, Peter Bayer on the other hand thinks that Ricciardo’s troubles lay with data interpretation.

The 34-year-old had a lap time deleted for track limits which would have seen through to Q2. Bayer is convinced had he done a stronger lap during FP2, his weekend would have been a very different story.

“I think he misinterpreted a bit the data,” said Bayer. “We actually had a look with him on what we have seen.

“And ultimately, I’m also taking positives away for Daniel, because he found his found his pace again in qualifying. I think if he could have done that lap on Friday, then he could have built on it.

“And honestly, I’m sure that he would have been in the in the top 10 as well in the qualifying. So we just need to take that away.”

Bayer adds that Sunday’s traffic was a direct impacted of his starting position. Had he started up with Tsunoda, it’s likely they would have finished in P7 and P8 after Alonso’s penalty.

He also emphasises that Albert Park is not an easy track for overtaking despite 4 DRS zones.

“On Sunday it’s difficult, because in terms of traffic, in terms of how you manage the race and where you position yourself, it’s also a track where it’s not easy to overtake.

“Honestly, he did a good job, solid job and we know that we can build on what we’ve seen here.”