Daniel Ricciardo says RB can target higher finishing positions from the start of the year than it managed throughout the whole of last season.
Ricciardo is going into his first full season since driving for McLaren in 2022. He returned to F1 in the middle of last year with his current team and said them made good progress as the year went on.
“The way we developed the car through the tail end of last season, we definitely found some things that I think at first worked really well for me, and then Yuki [Tsunoda] as well I think found also the strengths in it with his driving style, obviously having a good Abu Dhabi,” he told the official F1 channel. “So a lot to stay pretty upbeat about coming into the start.”
In addition to its latest rebranding, RB has also made several major personnel changes. Peter Bayer arrived as CEO last year, Laurent Mekies was appointed team principal at the beginning of the season, and the team has attracted former Alpine sporting director Alan Permane plus the FIA’s Tim Goss to strengthen its management.
Ricciardo said this is part of a new era for the team, which is now expected to be more of a competitor in its own right rather than simply a training ground for Red Bull’s junior drivers.
“There’s a lot of new personnel, some big partners coming on board,” he said. “Obviously the team has always taken itself seriously, but I feel like this is another step up now. It’s no longer just a platform for Red Bull Racing. It’s a time for us to fight at the front of the midfield.
“Of course, you speak in the team, some people are encouraged and optimistic and then others are ‘let’s just wait ’til we get it on track’ so you never know. And that’s the truth. And even if the team was super-excited, I would be like, guys, let’s just wait ’til we put it on track in Bahrain.
“But I like what’s happened, the changes that have taken place. I feel like there’s something about the team, the mindset’s a little bit different. Kind of like a point to prove, I would say.”
Ricciardo scored the team’s best result of last season with seventh place in the Mexican Grand Prix. He believes the team can target better results from the start this year.
“I would say top fives should certainly be a target and then if we get into that position then maybe some podiums present themselves,” he said. “Of course we want to win but I think we made steps last year, let’s make a few more steps.
“But, do I think top five results are on the table and could they be on the table in the first half of the season? I’d like to think so, absolutely.”
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