Chassis change working out for embattled Ricciardo

Apr.21 (GMM) Daniel Ricciardo is hopeful his Formula 1 career is back on track.

The embattled Australian had hoped to humble his RB teammate Yuki Tsunoda this year and leapfrog into the Red Bull Racing seat next to Max Verstappen for 2025.

Tsunoda, however, has had the clear edge so far, even triggering speculation that Shanghai this weekend could be 34-year-old Ricciardo’s last in F1 before he is replaced by Liam Lawson.

“Everybody in the team is shutting that (speculation) down,” Ricciardo said ahead of the Chinese GP. “But I do have to earn my spot.

“At the end of the day, if I am getting my ass whooped I don’t deserve to be here.”

Ricciardo admits he totally lost confidence and motivation amid his similar struggles at McLaren in 2022, but insists the situation is different in 2024.

Before China, he asked Faenza-based RB for a fresh chassis or monocoque.

Sporting director Alan Permane obliged, but he said it was highly unlikely it would turn Ricciardo’s fortunes around.

“The reason I say it’s ever so unlikely is because it really is,” he said. “It’s not a performance differentiator.”

But at the wheel of his new monocoque in Shanghai, Ricciardo was suddenly ahead of Tsunoda – in every session.

“We did change chassis,” Ricciardo confirmed on Saturday. “Something didn’t make me feel right with the previous one. “But it’s just one track. I don’t want to jump on that yet and be like ‘It’s definitely that’.

“We’ll see. Hopefully I’ve got that monkey off my back but we’ll see.”

It is believed Red Bull’s rescuing of Ricciardo’s embattled career last year was powered by Christian Horner – with Dr Helmut Marko having unsuccessfully fought to put Lawson in the 2024 car alongside Tsunoda instead.

Horner, for now, remains behind the Australian.

“It’s still early days, isn’t it?” he said in Shanghai. “I mean, his season hasn’t really got going yet. We’re only at race five.”

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