Daniel Ricciardo ‘hungry’ ahead of 2024 F1 season

The 2023 Formula 1 season did not feature a lot of excitement at the front of the field, and Red Bull drove away with their second-straight Constructors’ Championship, and Max Verstappen lapped the field en route to his third-straight Drivers’ title.

Those looking for some excitement, however, likely found that with the stunning return of Daniel Ricciardo to the grid.

After losing his seat at McLaren and signing on with Red Bull as a reserve driver, Ricciardo was tapped to replace the struggling Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri midway through the 2023 campaign. Ricciardo then needed a replacement of his own, as a crash during practice ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix left him sidelined for a few weeks, as Liam Lawson then took over behind the wheel at AlphaTauri.

Ricciardo returned to the grid for the United States Grand Prix in October, and a seventh-place finish in the Mexico City Grand Prix helped the team lock up eighth in the Constructors’ Championship.

Now, Ricciardo is back, driving alongside Yuki Tsunoda for the newly minted Visa Cash App RB F1 Team, and he is “motivated” to deliver this year, as he embarks on what he calls the “second part” of his career.

“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,” said Ricciardo in the team’s media preview. “I’m hungry and motivated without any negative weight on my shoulders or stress attached to it, to interfere with my life.”

Formula 1 Testing in Bahrain - Day 3

Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

Ricciardo also calls this year’s challenger, the RB01, an improvement on last year’s AT04. How much of an improvement? That will be uncovered over the next few days in Bahrain.

“Like everyone else, I’ve only had a few hours testing in this year’s car. 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,” added Ricciardo. “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. 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.”

While Ricciardo stopped short of predicting points for the team at the Bahrain Grand Prix, he admitted there is “something special” to the start of a new season.

“I like Bahrain, it’s a nice track and a good place to start the season. It’s pretty challenging, especially on the rear [tires[ as the track is very rough. I’ve had some good moments there, never on the podium, but I’ve scored plenty of points. Of course, there’s something special about the first race of the season,” said Ricciardo. “When you haven’t raced for a few months, it feels a bit more intense. You can spend time in the simulator driving the track, but you can’t practice racing intensely, wheel to wheel with 19 of the best guys in the world, and that makes for a pretty exciting feeling at the first race of the year.”

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