Ricciardo ignoring critics: ‘I’m on a journey at the moment’

MELBOURNE, Australia – Daniel Ricciardo’s underwhelming start to the season has become a major talking point in Formula One but the Australian said he is ignoring his critics and is sure a turnaround is coming soon.

While Tsunoda claimed valuable points for Red Bull’s junior team by finishing seventh at the Australian Grand Prix Ricciardo struggled at his home race, failing to make it out of Q1 on Saturday and then finishing 12th on Sunday.

Ricciardo returned to the company’s second team mid-way through last year and has made it clear he wants to replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull in 2025.

Tsunoda has out-qualified Ricciardo at all three events so far this year and currently looks like the better candidate for promotion on form alone.

“I came into this weekend really, honestly, deep down believing we were going to have a very, very good weekend,” Ricciardo said after the race Sunday.

“And in terms of the noise, people tell me in the media, like ‘so and so said’, and it’s the first I’ve heard. It’s obviously no disrespect to you guys. I know that I’m on this little process or journey at the moment, and I just need to focus on myself.

“If I let any of the noise in, it’s going to kind of distract me from the path I’m on. I think it’s been really good, I haven’t let any of that maybe negative stuff creep in.”

Ricciardo said he understands the noise around him currently, but stressed that he is not having the same crisis in confidence which contributed to his early departure from McLaren in 2022.

“I also understand that I didn’t expect to start the season like this. Budapest last year, I drove the car a day before, and out qualified Yuki and had a really strong race with no knowledge. Having a full preseason and all that, and all the races last year, I honestly thought that this year, we would start a lot stronger.”

“There is that, which I understand not only me but a few people are wondering why. I think the important thing is that I stay on course, it’s not that my head is filled with nonsense or anything.

“I honestly feel good, and just unfortunately the results haven’t made me feel awesome, but deep down behind the wheel, I do feel good and excited. I just want to keep racing. I’m sure I’ll find a bit more in myself, and I still believe maybe we’ll find a little something on the car.”

Asked if he’s confident a turnaround is coming, Ricciardo said: “I hope so. I’m asking the team a lot of questions, and I think we will have some bits and pieces come onto the car in the next kind of one, two races.

“I expect it to be a pretty quick turnaround, and before you know it, we’ll be doing great again… I kind of say that jokingly, but I do believe it. So yeah, we’ll hopefully turn it around.”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner backed his former driver to get back on track.

“He’s a big boy, he’ll pick himself up, but sometimes the F1 driver can be a bit lonely so a bit of encouragement is never a bad thing,” Horner said on Sunday evening.

Asked if Ricciardo is squandering the opportunity to return to Red Bull with his current form, Horner replied: “I think it’s still very early in the year to even be thinking about next year.”

Horner and Red Bull appear to be spoiled for choice should the team opt to move on from Perez next season. In the same media session, Horner appeared to hint that Australian Grand Prix winner Carlos Sainz has a shot of racing for the team in 2025, with the Spaniard making way at Ferrari for Lewis Hamilton next year. Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso has stalled on signing a new contract so far and would relish a chance to drive Red Bull’s dominant race car. Alpine pair Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon, both former race winners, are also out of contract this year.

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