Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda looking to ‘turn the page’ after frosty start to F1 season

It was a decidedly frosty start to the 2024 Formula 1 season for Visa Cash App RB F1 Team. After showing promise early in the week ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, including Daniel Ricciardo topping the timing sheets during FP1, the team finished outside of the points in the Grand Prix on Saturday. Not only that, their day ended with their two drivers having a bit of a dust-up on the radio, and on the track, after the checkered flag flew.

Now, with the grid ready to head to Jeddah for next weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the team is looking to “turn the page.”

The frustration stems from a set of team orders late in the race. With Tsunoda running in P13 on a set of hard tires, and Ricciardo behind him in P14 on a set of softs, the order came for Tsunoda to let Ricciardo through. The team likely held the hope that the Australian driver would be able to chase down Kevin Magnussen for P12 and maybe find a way to steal a point if he could pull off something special.

However, Tsunoda initially questioned the request, and did not immediately let Ricciardo through. He eventually agreed to the request, but continued to question the set of orders as Ricciardo failed to chase down Magnussen.

Then, after the checkered flag, Tsunoda pulled off one last overtake in the race — of Ricciardo himself — and the two nearly came together. That’s when Ricciardo aired some frustration of his own over the team radio:

Now, the team is looking to move past the incident.

“We were not quite good enough for points today. I struggled a lot at the beginning of the race with the used soft [tires] because there was a pretty poor grip off the line. In the middle stint with the hard tyres, we got a little bit more pace, but I anyway felt that I was struggling. In the end, the new soft compound was a lot better,” said Ricciardo in the team’s post-race report.

Ricciardo also reiterated, as he did with the media following the race, that the team orders were discussed ahead of the race among the team.

“We finally extracted some pace and were catching the pack. At that point, I got a little stuck behind other cars and I lost the grip on the [tires]. The call for the drivers’ swap was quite expected and came with no surprise,” added Ricciardo. “Before the race, we obviously talked with the team about strategy plans, and it was highly likely I was going to finish the race with a new set of soft [tires] after starting the race with a used set. It is what it is, and let’s turn the page now. I’ve got an idea of what we can do to be better, so I’ve some confidence in going racing next week in Jeddah.”

For his part, Tsunoda focused on the future.

“I think I was doing quite well within the points until about halfway through the race when I felt it was slipping away from us. We weren’t fighting for points at that time, so we’ll have to review everything during our post-race analysis and learn from it for the future. It’s race one, so there’s still lots of time to understand,” said Tsunoda. “In general, there’s still a lot we can take away from this weekend, the mechanics did a great job with all our pitstops, and if there is anything we could do better strategy-wise, we’ll review and improve for Saudi.”

Laurent Mekies, the new team’s new Team Principal, addressed the team orders in his post-race comments.

’Overall, a tough Saturday where the midfield was tighter than ever. The fight for P11 was a hard one with eight cars involved at times! In the early stage of the race, we felt we could have had a good go at it, with Yuki doing a good job and driving up to P10. We lost a few positions as the race went on and struggled to pass our competitors in the final stage of the race,” said Mekies. “We had Daniel on a new set of soft tyres for that final stint and we swapped our cars to give ourselves a chance to overtake Kevin [Magnussen] and Zhou [Guanyu] but ultimately it was not enough, and we had to settle for P13 and P14.”

Similar to Tsunoda, Mekies also turned his focus to the future.

“We know that it is only race one, but we will certainly review how we could have extracted more from our car and our pace today. There are more positives than negatives in our first weekend as Visa Cash App RB and everyone is pushing very hard in Faenza and Bicester,” added Mekies. “Any hundredths of a second gained in the midfield are going to make a significant difference.’’

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