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Ricciardo explains why 2024 struggles with RB are different to his time at McLaren

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 23: 18th placed qualifier Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash

RB driver Daniel Ricciardo has opened up about his difficult start to the 2024 season, while explaining why he is optimistic that he can turn things around and avoid the same fate as his previous stint at McLaren.

Ricciardo returned to the sport on a full-time basis with the then-named AlphaTauri team midway through last season, having dropped off the grid at the end of 2022 after leaving McLaren earlier than planned amid struggles to live with the pace of team mate Lando Norris.

READ MORE: ‘Not where I expected to be’ admits Ricciardo as he rues difficult opening three races with RB

But following on from a solid handful of races to see out 2023, interrupted by a hand-breaking accident at the Dutch Grand Prix, Ricciardo has been outperformed by the sister VCARB 01 of Yuki Tsunoda over the opening three rounds of the season.

Indeed, while Tsunoda reached the pole position shootout in Saudi Arabia and Australia, and also scored points at the latter event, Ricciardo suffered respective Q1 and Q2 exits and had to settle for midfield finishes.

Ricciardo Australia.jpg

Ricciardo was unable to make an impression at his home Grand Prix in Australia

Speaking after his home race at Albert Park, and what he needs to unlock from the RB package going forward, Ricciardo said: “It’s a two-part process now. Obviously I look as much as I can into myself, into data, into onboards, how I’m driving, what’s making me do certain things.

“Then is that self-induced or is that something coming from the car which isn’t giving me the feeling I want? Then I’m asking the engineers lots of questions, because the car is pretty much the same as last year. Obviously it’s a different car but it’s not that we’ve changed the whole philosophy – the handling and the characteristics are fairly similar.

READ MORE: A home debut, a ‘keeno’ childhood visit & the podium that wasn’t – Ricciardo on his favourite Melbourne memories

“I think that’s why we’re probably a little bit, maybe unsure why we’re struggling so much, and certainly Yuki is very, very comfortable with it. It’s pretty similar, so we’ll keep working. I’m trying to get them to go around the car with a magnifying glass as well and make sure nothing’s off!

Ricciardo insists he’s ‘not rattled’ by troubled start to the season

“As a driver you put everything you can into it but you want to ask as many questions as possible and make sure we’ve got everything as it should [be]. I’m sure we’ll find something, keep our head straight and keep our eyes on the prize, I guess.”

But while he and the team have been struggling to get on top of the situation so far, the 34-year-old expressed confidence that it is not the same level of trouble previously experienced at McLaren, where detailed analysis failed to unlock the performance required.

READ MORE: Red Bull-backed rising star Ayumu Iwasa to make F1 weekend debut with RB during practice at Japanese GP

“I know how I feel, and maybe not everyone does, but it’s a very different situation to McLaren,” he made clear. “I think especially in 2022 I was running on very, very little confidence, I was kind of confused with the car and I didn’t really understand it. That was a completely different thing and this isn’t that.

“We’re certainly not achieving what we thought we would be but it’s not through just being lost or losing confidence or anything. We know we can do it, I thought it would have happened this weekend, unfortunately it didn’t. But we’re not going to start letting the noise creep in, just stay true to the course and it’ll turn around.”

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