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‘Hungry’ Ricciardo says 2024 season feels like ‘second part’ of F1 career starting

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to

Daniel Ricciardo has spoken of renewed energy – while also being free of any “negative weight” and “stress” – as he gets set to kick off the 2024 season with the RB team in Bahrain.

Ricciardo left the grid at the end of 2022 after parting ways with McLaren earlier than planned, but made an earlier-than-expected return midway through 2023 when the then-named AlphaTauri opted to replace Nyck de Vries.

TEAM PREVIEW: With a new name and changes at the top, can RB move forwards in 2024?

With half a season behind him, and a full winter of preparation at the operation he previously represented in their Toro Rosso days, the experienced Ricciardo likened the situation to starting afresh ahead of this week’s action at Sakhir.

“At last, it’s time to go racing again,” said Ricciardo, who made his F1 debut with Hispania in 2011 before stints at Toro Rosso, Red Bull, Renault, McLaren and now RB. “I can’t wait to be honest. In contrast to last year, this time it’s been good to have a proper pre-season.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB

Ricciardo got his first taste of RB’s new car during pre-season testing in Bahrain last week

“After 2022, I needed that time off, so it was great to jump in mid-season, but in terms of being fully prepared, this year has been a better way to get ready. I do feel that this is like the start of the second part of my career.

“Having some time off gives you a new perspective. I’m putting a lot of focus into what is a second opportunity for me, but at the same time, it’s not putting pressure on myself.

READ MORE: Ricciardo claims ‘rumours’ led to RB being tipped as dark horses ahead of 2024 pre-season testing

“I’m hungry and motivated without any negative weight on my shoulders or stress attached to it, to interfere with my life.”

Ricciardo, who has 239 Grand Prix starts and eight race wins under his belt, also shared what he and RB have been up to since they quietly impressed at last week’s pre-season test.

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Ultimate Guide: Everything you need to know about the 2024 F1 season

“Like everyone else, I’ve only had a few hours testing in this year’s car,” he continued. “It’s natural for a new car to be an improvement on the previous one, but what counts is where we stand compared to everyone else.

“Have we improved more than them or have they improved more than us? It does feel better, but you’re only as good as your competition lets you be.

READ MORE: Tsunoda hopeful RB changes can bring ‘winning mindset’ as team hold lofty ambitions

“I’ve stayed in Bahrain since the test, and with the engineers we’ve spent a lot of hours studying all the data from the three days on track, so we know what we want to do as soon as we hit the track for free practice.”

Ricciardo will continue alongside Yuki Tsunoda at RB in 2024, with the team looking to improve on their P8 classification in last year’s constructors’ standings.

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