Ricciardo “unsure” if RB F1 can be in Q3 and the points this weekend at the Bahrain GP

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Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 story continues into 2024 as the Australian drives for RB F1. The 34-year-old is out to impress in his first full season since a very difficult spell at McLaren.

The 10 teams and 20 drivers got plenty of running in during testing in Bahrain last week. With the drivers very familiar with the track and their new cars around it, the 8-time Grand Prix says RB will be using the Thursday practice sessions to test more set-ups ahead of qualifying and the race.

With drivers only getting one and a half days in the car before the season begins, it leaves a very limited amount of time for them and the team to try various set-up configurations.

“Well, to be honest, there’s still more things with set-up that there’s still to try.
I think we tried a lot, but there’s always more, you know.

“I mean, speaking kind of in a way, like, maybe we got 75% of the test items done, but there’s still a few more, ultimately. I think it was very productive, but just [a lack of] time as well.

“And obviously, between us as drivers, you know, maybe I’m pushing like, I really want to try this, but we only have half a day. Then, obviously, Yuki maybe has different priorities. So, yeah, there’s always a few more things.

“But actually, looking at tomorrow, we know the track. We spend a lot of time here. We don’t need to get up to speed on the track.

“I think tomorrow we can use as another productive test day. I think we can probably get most of those 25% of changes done tomorrow as well.”

How are you feeling with a pre-season under your belt this year compared to, you know, even to the end of last year? (1:13) Really good.

After parting ways with McLaren at the conclusion of the 2022 season, the Perth man — who joined Red Bull as a reserve driver — returned to the cockpit with AlphaTauri at the Hungarian GP following the sacking of Nyck de Vries.

An unfortunate injury at Zandvoort saw his comeback halted for a while, but he would return at Circuit of The Americas.

Ricciardo admits having a full pre-season under his belt gives him a valuable few extra percent heading into the new campaign.

“I think it’s, I was kind of saying before, like, you can be experienced in whatever […] of course, it helps. But at this level now, you can’t, I don’t know if it’s the right words, but you can’t cheat it.

“You know, you can’t just jump in halfway through a season and think that you’re going to be 100% of everything, technically, driving, strategy, like, all these things.

“So, just spending the three days with the team, doing all that, feeling the car, and now having a few days to also discuss it post-test and have that luxury of time without the stress of, we’ve got to bounce back to another race, another race.

“I think it’s that extra few percent that I think can make a difference.”

He expanded on his comments once again in response to another question when told Tsunoda feels the Aussie is back at his top of the game, adding there will be no excuses not for them to perform in Bahrain.

“I feel good. I mean, coming back even last year, I felt good.

“And in terms of my driving, yeah, I was in a good place. But, again, I don’t want to ignore that few percent that maybe now a full pre-season does.

“And even just having a summer break or, sorry, a winter break for most, summer for us, just being able to reflect on it and come into the season now with some new ideas, every little bit helps.

“I think Yuki and I will be pushing the car hard. And whatever happens this weekend, there will be no, not that there’s really ever excuses or we try not to, but there will be no excuses.”

Ahead of this weekend, Ricciardo wants pundits and fans to main realistic about their level of competitiveness in Bahrain, stating that Q3 and points is not even a guarantee.

“Time will tell, but I honestly don’t think so.

“Like, I want to say after testing, we have a bit of an idea of the gap to the leaders — OK, give or take probably a few tenths, but I think knowing that it’s still a pretty big gap, I want to say I’m realistic that I think there is some teams that fit inside that gap.

“If we could leave here with Q3 and points, I think we’d be very happy. Do I stand here now and say we’re definitely going to be in Q3 and points? Still a bit unsure, honestly.“

On the VCARB 01, he believes it is not like when Racing Point had the ‘pink Mercedes’ that vaulted them up the grid in 2020, or the Aston Martin of 2023. While they have taken some components that they are allowed to, it’s not going to make them 2nd or 3rd fastest.

Asked about how much of Red Bull Racing’s 2023 challenger is in the 2024 RB F1 package, he said:

“Look, again, we’ll get our answer in 48 hours, but I think some people think it’s that and we’re going to be the Aston of last year or the pink Mercedes of a few years ago.

“Let’s see, I would love to surprise myself and be fighting for a podium, but I would say once we get the result on the weekend, people will calm down a bit.

“Obviously, we do have some components that we’re allowed to use and things like that, but it is not to the level that I think some people are thinking or hoping or whatever.”