RB insists Ricciardo “absolutely” still able to deliver at his best in F1

The Australian has had a challenging start to the 2024 campaign as he has not found himself as confident with the handling of the VCARB 01 as team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.

His struggles even prompted speculation that he could be dropped before the end of the campaign if things did not improve by the summer break.

But off the back of a more encouraging showing in recent races, which coincided with a new chassis in China, RB has made it clear that it maintains total faith in what Ricciardo is able to produce.

And while there is still some more work to be done to get Ricciardo more comfortable with how the car behaves, RB team principal Laurent Mekies has no doubts that the eight-time grand prix winner is the right man to get the job done.

Asked by Autosport if the team felt Ricciardo has exactly the same potential as it saw on his F1 return last year, Mekies said: “Yeah, absolutely.

“It’s the DNA of our job to try to identify what car set-up is needed for both the car and the drivers to perform at their best, and that is what we are doing with both our drivers.

“We have seen a strong growth from Yuki and we are seeing a Daniel getting back on his trajectory.”

Daniel Ricciardo, VCARB 01

Daniel Ricciardo, VCARB 01

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

While Ricciardo has yet to score any points so far this year, Mekies feels that bad luck has had a bigger role in that than a lack of ability.

He says that progress has been clear to see since the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but hard results have been disguised by unforeseen incidents like his lap-one exit in Japan and being hit by Lance Stroll behind the safety car in China.

“Already in Saudi, we were starting to say that we were seeing stuff that made us understand how to support him better,» added Mekies. «So yeah, the trajectory is good.

“We have not reached the finish line there and we have a few things mid-term coming to help him feel better in the car and to make sure that our car suits his driving style the best.

“But certainly it will be a good confidence boost to see that there is tangible progress like we saw over [the China] weekend.”

While Ricciardo has faced criticism from outside, Mekies has said that internally, the team has seen nothing but determination from him to get on top of the problems he has faced.

“Unlike what is perhaps perceived from the outside, during all this difficult start to the season, he has been very focused, very calm, very rational about it,” he said.

“We looked at the limitations of the car, and what he needed to go faster. Some of the steps you can do quickly, but first you need to understand it. Then once you have understood, some of the steps you can act quickly, and some others will take more time.

“We have tried to tick as many boxes as we could, but we certainly don’t stop here.”

Watch: F1 2024 Miami Grand Prix Preview — Everything You Need to Know

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