New team, new car, new season: Life is good for Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo tests his car's limits in Bahrain.

Daniel Ricciardo tests his car's limits in Bahrain. Photo: AP

Daniel Ricciardo insists his thoughts are not racing ahead as he contemplates the start of a new Formula One season behind the wheel of Red Bull’s freshly rebranded junior team.

Ricciardo, who finished fourth-fastest on the first day of testing last Wednesday, raced for Red Bull between 2014-18 and is angling for a return if number two Sergio Perez leaves at the end of the season.

The Australian will start the new campaign in Bahrain next week with the sponsor-friendly Visa Cash App RB – the Italy-based team formerly known as AlphaTauri, and before that Scuderia Toro Rosso and Minardi.

Known more simply as RB – an abbreviation of racing bulls – Ricciardo’s team finished eighth last year and will enjoy closer ties with dominant champions Red Bull in 2024.

Ricciardo left McLaren at the end of 2022 and returned to AlphaTauri, alongside Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda, for seven races last year.

Having been part of the ‘silly season’ puzzle, with plenty of drivers out of contract at the end of the year, he was happy for the spotlight to fall on others after Lewis Hamilton’s shock move from Mercedes to Ferrari in 2025.

‘I was out and then I was back in’

“I was just happy to be watching and not being directly involved,” Ricciardo said.

“I just want to do my job here and hopefully it leads to big things.

“To think a year ahead seems crazy because I know how quickly the sport can change.

“From one year to the next I was out and then I was back in.

“Taking it race by race helps me stay present and ultimately just in love with it.”

Daniel Ricciardo is on the move again. Photo: Getty

The Australian played down suggestions RB could emerge as dark horses for the new season.

“We believe we can do better than eighth,” he said.

“If people are expecting an Aston (Martin) and (Fernando) Alonso (situation) from last year, and fighting for a podium from race one, we’re not there yet.

‘It can swing pretty quickly’

“I’ve got an idea of who’s quick and maybe who’s struggling but … I’m just still relatively unsure (who will be competitive).

“Even if some teams are within a couple of tenths, a couple of tenths could be five positions on the grid. It can swing pretty quickly.”

While Ferrari were fastest in testing, Red Bull still looked like the team to beat with their new RB20 car an eye-catching evolution of the winner of 21 of 22 races last year.

“They were at the front a decade ago and then saw Mercedes go on this massive run,” Ricciardo said of the sport’s current leading team.

“They really just want to make an absolute statement not to be overtaken again, or to hold onto this front spot for as long as possible.

“I know for fans, they are probably like ‘Man, I want to see a different winner’ but from a competitive point of view you have to admire it.”


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