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

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

Daniel Ricciardo has given his take on where RB might sit in the 2024 pecking order after an encouraging start to their preparations at last week’s pre-season test in Bahrain.

RB caught the eye by placing fourth on the opening day of action in Sakhir and remained in the top five positions for the two days that followed, prompting talk in the paddock that they could be a “dark horse” for the year ahead.

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Speaking as the test was drawing to a close, Ricciardo offered an initial assessment of the rebranded RB’s standing as the team look to improve on the P8 finish they achieved in last year’s constructors’ championship as AlphaTauri.

“I think in terms of performance, as expected, we’re trying to fight in that midfield group,” said Ricciardo. “I think there’s definitely some work to do to catch the front guys, but that’s no surprise.

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 21: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB

RB were in the mix at the front during testing, albeit with precise run plans an unknown

“I think it was a pretty smooth test. I don’t think we leave here with any concerns or scratching our heads, I think we know where we are and we’ve just got to keep working from here.”

Pushed on RB being described by some as a potential surprise package, amid their increasing links with sister team Red Bull, Ricciardo again calmed expectations but did set out a target of being in the fight for Q3 appearances and points finishes.

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“I would say I think people definitely got excited, let’s say from the outside,” he replied. “Let’s just say the fans got excited, I think they thought we were going to be a different version of another car from the past, but it’s not that, it isn’t that.

“I think there were the rumours and the bit of excitement that it was going to be, but it’s certainly not. But I think we’re trying to make the most of what we’ve got. I think we definitely developed the car from last year.

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Ricciardo reflects on being described as a 'dark horse'

“It’s hard because we brought upgrades in Abu Dhabi, so we’re comparing it to a car that had fresh updates. If we compared it to the car the race before Abu Dhabi, it looks like we made a bigger step, but it’s just an evolution of that.

“So, some gains here and there, but if we want to be sure to fight for Q3s and top 10s, there’s certainly still going to be a bit more to find. But I say that realistically, I don’t say it pessimistically, just realistically.”

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Ricciardo, team mate Yuki Tsunoda and the rest of the F1 field will be back in action at the Bahrain International Circuit this week as the 2024 season gets under way from February 29 to March 2.

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