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RB drivers rue lack of pace after slipping backwards during ‘pretty painful weekend’ in Saudi Arabia

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 07: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend proved to be one to forget for RB, with both drivers left to reflect on their struggles with pace after ending the race towards the back of the field.

After reaching Q3 in Friday’s qualifying to line up in P9 on the grid, Yuki Tsunoda lost a place to Lance Stroll on the opening lap before then being overtaken by Oliver Bearman when the race was restarted following a Safety Car period.

READ MORE: Verstappen seals assured victory in Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Bearman scores points on debut

Tsunoda soon found himself in a close midfield battle and, after managing to overtake Kevin Magnussen in the multi-car scrap, subsequently had a bit of a moment and lost positions to both Magnussen and Esteban Ocon.

He was later passed by Alex Albon as the fight continued throughout the race and ultimately crossed the line down in P15.

Reflecting afterwards, Tsunoda said: “There were a couple of mistakes [I made] myself as well, but I also struggled with the grip. Obviously there was a bit of a messy midfield. I let a couple of cars behind [pass me] and that was my mistake. But at the same time, it was pretty difficult to handle it.”

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‘We have to figure out why’ – Tsunoda looking for answers after he dropped out of the points in Jeddah

The Japanese driver was at least hopeful that RB could look to address their issues with race pace, having performed relatively well in qualifying.

“[On the] positive side we had a good qualifying. [We] have to still work on this kind of race,” he added. “Historically we tend to always struggle with the race pace, so we have to figure out why.”

READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from Saudi Arabia – Who impressed under the lights in Jeddah?

It was also a challenging race and an overall difficult weekend for Daniel Ricciardo. The Australian had started from P14 and lost two places off the line, and from there struggled to make headway. After suffering a spin on Lap 47 of 50, he ended the event in P16.

“Tough weekend,” Ricciardo stated later on. “The only thing that’s probably keeping me a little bit optimistic now is we did find a few things, so that’s positive when you know that. I’ve driven a long time, I know when things don’t feel quite right.

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Ricciardo reflects on ‘pretty painful weekend’ after run to P16 in Jeddah

“On one hand it’s nice to find a few things, but on another, it meant that it was a pretty painful weekend. That’s obviously frustrating, and the race, it was tough. I think coming into it we knew it would be tough, then we had a slow pit stop, and a few laps from the end I ate a bit too much kerb in Turn 1 and had a spin.

“That kind of summed up the weekend. But yeah, we’ve got a week off now so Melbourne will be better. I know we’ll fix it, and have an equal playing field and a strong showing.”

HIGHLIGHTS: Watch the action from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as Verstappen takes the win and Bearman shines

With his home event of the Australian Grand Prix being the next stop on the 2024 F1 calendar, Ricciardo believes that the team can work on the issues they have identified and have a better showing in Melbourne.

“It feels like it’s been a pretty slow start to the year. But it’s been two races. I know how quickly this thing can turn around,” the eight-time race winner acknowledged.

"As I said, there’s not too much head-scratching now, it was just a frustrating weekend, but it’s not that we don’t have answers. I think it’s quite clear, so we’ve just got to polish her up and make sure it’s good to go for Melbourne.”

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