Daniel Ricciardo downplays RB’s potential amid a solid day at Bahrain

Daniel Ricciardo downplays RB's potential amid a solid day at Bahrain

Daniel Ricciardo is controlling his excitement while downplaying RB’s potential following a solid first day of Bahrain pre-season testing.

Visa CashApp RB’s Daniel Ricciardo recorded the fourth-fastest time in the first day of Bahrain pre-season testing after he took the wheel for the afternoon session as RB establishes a closer collaboration with the senior Red Bull team which involves taking as many parts as the rules permit for 2024 F1.

The VCARB-01 continues to possess a lot of distinctive features as Ricciardo acknowledged he has an impressive car that can contend for race wins this season. However, he downplayed expectations about where they might sit in the order.

The car appeared stable and well-balanced as it handled slow-speed turns with ease and neither driver complained about the car’s acceleration when they applied the throttle early.

Testing times are a notoriously inaccurate indicator of actual speed because teams try to hide their real potential while running as many parts as possible. However, Ricciardo and teammate Yuki Tsunoda seemed to be off to a good start.

This season, both drivers have set a goal of battling it out in the upper midfield; however, the 34-year-old is trying to downplay those expectations for the time being.

“I think, start of the season, we need to be a little bit cautious,” Ricciardo said after the first day of testing. “I think the target as the season goes on is the front of the midfield, but I think I would say now where we are it’s probably more in the midfield.

“I’m not sure we’re yet at the front, but that is certainly our target. But I know some people are quite excited about us coming into the season, but I want to play a little bit cautious because we have a decent car, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Last year, Ricciardo did not participate in preseason testing because he was Red Bull’s third driver following his sudden departure from McLaren. With two more half-day sessions to go, he was happy to be right back in the center of everything this time around.

“It’s nice to get the first day done and go to sleep quite happy to have driven an F1 car again,” he added. “I think because we got out a little bit late, the programme then was a little bit rushed.

“So we didn’t have that much time to debrief and discuss too many setup changes, tonight we’ll do that, Yuki is back in the car tomorrow morning, so try to give them as much info as possible before they start tomorrow.”

When asked where RB will be able to make the most progress on their vehicle this year, Ricciardo said that the team might start in the midfield pack, which is a big improvement from where they were at this time last year, considering AlphaTauri struggled for points in the first half of 2023.

“I mean, it’s really going to come from aero,” the Australian said. “It’s really where all us midfield teams talk about, to catch those top teams. It’s trying to find those gains in aero – it’s aero and then there’s drag as well.

“So sometimes you can find load and remove drag, and that’s really the key.

“I think that’s what the top teams have done really well, so that’s where we need to work on.”

RB is an entirely different squad now than it was even a year ago when it was still known as AlphaTauri. This comes following the arrival of a new team principal along with several extra upgrades during winter.

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