Ricciardo admits that race starts are “hurting” RB F1 after a P13 finish in Imola GP

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After the Australian found himself in Q3 on Saturday, Daniel Ricciardo finished Sunday’s race in 13th, behind both Haas cars and his teammate. Yuki Tsunoda crossed the line in 10th, taking home a valuable point for the Italian-based team. 

The Haas of Magnussen also cleared him at the end of the Grand Prix on much fresher tyres, with the American team’s cars finishing between the RBs in 11th and 12th.

Getting stuck behind Logan Sargeant for a number of laps badly compromised his race as well following his early stop.

Regarding race pace, he believes he had a small advantage on the German, but he was not especially happy with the balance and feeling on the hards.

“I still think the laps we have in clear air, we show some pace. I feel like in clear air we probably have a tenth, maybe 2 on Hülkenberg, so I think it looks very different if we get a better start.

“In saying that, I still didn’t feel particularly happy with the set of hard tyres.

“As soon as I left the box, I didn’t really feel like I had a great peak on the tyres. So, yeah, I didn’t feel balance was great, but nonetheless I still felt like we had an ability to lap decent compared to our rivals.

Ricciardo did not get the best start when the lights went out and believes his poor launch effected his race greatly, losing out to Hülkenberg and Perez on the run to turn 2

“But yeah, the starts, they’re hurting us at the moment. Honestly, I don’t know yet what the issue was. I didn’t feel like I botched it and I felt like everything was going okay from the procedure.

“But yeah, we have to have a look. It’s so sensitive and it’s something we’re working on, but today obviously it costs us.

“I think if we stay in front of Hulkenberg at the start, if Yuki and I, say, go off together, then it’s a completely different looking race.”

Despite what the 34-year-old refers to as a bad start, Ricciardo is confident it’s not a general issue, although he admits they need to keep working away at it to be consistent.

“It’s probably just an inconsistency.

“Obviously in Miami, when I was in fourth, when you really need a good start, fortunately I did. I had a good start at fourth and obviously gained the position.

“But we’re just looking for consistency. We don’t want these starts today where we lose two positions. I don’t need to be getting the best start out of everyone, but just at least try and hold positions.

“Look, it’s something we’re putting a lot of effort into, but obviously today it’s still bit us.

“I think Yuki also lost a place [two]. So, as a team it wasn’t great.

On whether it was the first or second phase of the start that was an issue, Ricciardo believes it was wheelspin on Sunday.

“I can’t remember. I remember getting wheelspin today, so I guess that’s probably the second phase. But yeah, try and keep figuring it out.”

Ricciardo now heads into Monaco this weekend with an open mind knowing that the streets of Monte Carlo have usually been kind to him performance-wise, with a 2018 Monaco GP win under his belt during his spell at Red Bull Racing.

With that in consideration, the Australian does not expect anything too big from Monaco, but is hopeful nonetheless. 

“Look, I think I go into weekends now with a fairly open mind, not really with too much expectation, certainly some curiosity about how well we can go.”

Last year’s Monaco Grand Prix was one of the races that Ricciardo sat out on, simply spectating and enjoying, unsure whether he would get another chance to race around Monaco.

Naturally he will be keen to get back behind the wheel, with hopes that he can deliver for the team. 

“I didn’t drive there last year. I was a fan last year, drinking and partying and all that.

“Im excited to be back in the cockpit. Monaco is a special place. Last year watching as a fan, I never knew if I would actually get that experience again.

“And hopefully that smile delivers some good lap times.”

At this point in the season, all teams have brought new upgrades to their cars, the RBs being no exception.

Ricciardo is feeling confident and encouraged by the upgrades the team has brought and believes everything they have put on the car has helped them, bringing them into more of a fighting range against Aston Martin, as well as eking out a gap to the other midfield runners behind them. 

“It’s been really positive. I think the car is definitely in a good place.

“As I said, certainly we have a few parts to improve. But generally, everything we put on the car has helped us.

“Aston is a team that we thought would be quite a long way down the road. And we seem to be more or less in that fight.

“So, yeah, it’s encouraging.”