RB have 'a point to prove' as Ricciardo sets out team's target for 2024
Daniel Ricciardo says the rebranded RB team have a “point to prove” and that top-five finishes should be the target in the upcoming 2024 Formula 1 season.
The Italian team, previously know as AlphaTauri, revealed their new machine – the VCARB 01 – at a glittering launch event in Las Vegas on Thursday night, the squad revealing a sparkling blue and white livery.
RB have had an overhaul over the winter, with new Team Principal Laurent Mekies starting his new job at the start of the year, Tim Goss joining in the newly-created role of Chief Technical Officer and Alan Permane coming onboard as Racing Director.
They’re moving their UK base in Bicester to Milton Keynes, where sister team Red Bull are based, and expanding the operation there alongside the main headquarters in Faenza.
“There are a lot of new personnel, some big partners coming onboard,” Ricciardo told F1.com. “The team has always taken itself seriously, but I feel like this is another step up. It’s no longer just a platform for Red Bull Racing, it’s a time for us to fight at the front of the midfield.
“I like what’s happened, the changes that have taken place. There’s something about the team, the mindset is a bit different, kind of like a point to prove. It’s cool. It’s fun.”
The team will also have a closer relationship with reigning world champions Red Bull, taking the front and rear suspension and gearbox from them, as they formulate ambitions of moving up the grid.
“You have to aim high, but being in this sport so long, you want to remain realistic as you don’t want to end up ultimately disappointed,” Ricciardo said when asked what is possible this season.
“Top-fives should be a target and if we get into that position, maybe some podiums present themselves. Of course we want to win but, you know, let’s…I think we made steps last year, let’s make a few more steps.
“Do I think top-five results are on the table – and could they be on the table in the first half of the season? I’d like to think so.”
The eight-time race winner has had a proper pre-season for the first time since returning to F1 midway through last year with AlphaTauri and he can’t wait to get back behind the wheel and test out the new car.
“Feeling good,” he said. “I didn’t need as much of an off season as everyone else, with a short 2023. It was still nice to go home, but I didn’t need to let my hair down so much.
“It’s like a pre-season now, I had all that, I had the preparation, I had a bit of a headstart last year – so I know the team well. Come Bahrain, there’s nothing left on the table. I can’t predict where we’ll finish there, but from a preparation point of view, there’s no more questions.”
He added: “Personally, the off-season didn’t feel like I was just on the couch. I mentally stayed in it so getting back in the car won’t feel like I haven’t driven for a few months – so I expect to get back into the swing straight away.
“I would say the way we developed the car through the tail end of last season, and we definitely found some things which at first definitely worked for me, and then I think Yuki [Tsunoda] found the strengths in it with his driving style, having a good Abu Dhabi.
“There is a lot to stay pretty upbeat about coming into the start of the year.”