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Confident Ricciardo not ‘in a deep, dark hole’ as he aims to ignite 2024 campaign in China

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Daniel Ricciardo is optimistic that he can get his season moving in the right direction at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, with the Australian enjoying some standout results at the Shanghai International Circuit over the years.

Ricciardo arrives at the venue after a challenging start to the 2024 campaign, having so far been consistently outpaced by RB team mate Yuki Tsunoda, who has logged all of the squad’s Q3 appearances and points so far.

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As he and RB work hard to unlock more performance, which will include him taking on a new chassis, Ricciardo hopes to draw on some of his previous positive experiences in China, which include a front-row start in 2016, an overtake-filled run to victory in 2018 (see the video below) and his first points finish in Renault colours in 2019.

“I’d love to replicate that five years later,” Ricciardo commented of that breakthrough on F1’s last visit to Shanghai. “On paper we’re not probably in a good place, but we’re not far off. It’s not like we’re really struggling or missing something in particular.

“I know it’s a little bit here and there, but it definitely hasn’t taken any confidence away from me. I stand here obviously not driving yet this weekend, but I’m standing here very confident that I can get the job done.”

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It’s been a tricky start to the season for Ricciardo, which included a first-lap crash in Japan last time out

While Ricciardo retired on the opening lap of racing in Japan last time out, he appeared to make a step forward in qualifying and came agonisingly close to securing a place in the top 10 shootout, having lapped only a few hundredths slower than Tsunoda.

Asked how much he is learning about RB’s package and if it feels like it’s just a matter of time before everything clicks, Ricciardo replied: “Yeah, it does. It’s funny, because I’m in year 14 of this, and you say I’m learning every time, and I’m like, ‘I’m not a rookie’.

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“But it’s true, it’s kind of the sad truth – you’re always learning. I say it’s sad truth, that’s also what makes the sport exciting, that you’re constantly trying to find something all the time, and you can find something. It’s kind of that endless opportunity… it’s exciting.

“Did I want to be learning this much coming into race five? Not really! But it’s still coming from a good place, it’s not coming from a place of we’re really struggling and we’re really in a deep, dark hole and it’s going to be hard to get out of it – not at all.

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“Japan, at least the Saturday, it was a short one, but it was definitely encouraging. I’ve just got to get it done now. But do I fear anything or do I feel that I cannot? Absolutely not.”

Ricciardo added that, given his current situation, he is paying little attention to his F1 future and where he might fit into RB and Red Bull’s plans going forward – the 34-year-old previously admitting a return to the senior team is his “dream”.

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“Even talking now about going up, let’s say I don’t even want to talk about it because obviously I’ve got to get my season going even before talking or thinking about that, so it’s certainly not at the forefront of my mind,” he made clear.

“Right now, it’s like I’ve got to… you’ve always got to prove yourself, right? I’ve got to prove myself here again and get that ball rolling. But I think being here in the family, they know what I’m capable of, and I think that’s obviously really encouraging.

“Yes, we want to turn this thing around, but there’s not some immense pressure that like, ‘You’ve got to show us you have the ability to do it’, because they know I do. Obviously now it’s just doing it and making it happen.”

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