Daniel Ricciardo Makes Huge Statement In First Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing

Remember, it's just testing.

Daniel Ricciardo Makes Huge Statement In First Formula 1 Pre-Season Testing

Image: Red Bull Content Pool

Formula 1 star Daniel Ricciardo made a huge statement during preseason testing for his new team, clearing the likes of Charles Leclerc, Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri to take the fourth-quickest time on the opening day.

They say you should never really read too much into testing. It’s true; this is the first opportunity for teams to take their drivers out of the sims and onto the open track, getting the first look to see if the changes and upgrades they’ve implemented over the off-season break have paid off.

After the first day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, Formula 1 fans were less than surprised to see that Red Bull had given three-time WDC Champion Max Verstappen another rocket to compete in for the 2024 season. Verstappen, who was also the fastest in pre-season testing in 2023 and 2021, came in more than a second faster than McLaren’s Lando Norris in second place and lay down a marker for the rest of the teams.

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr., who will relinquish his seat for the incoming Lewis Hamilton in 2025, rounded out the top three after the first session, clocking 133 laps in Bahrain in the new SF-24.

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But it was one place further down that was catching fans’ eyes, with Daniel Ricciardo, in his first pre-season testing in two years with the Visa Cash App Red Bull team, taking the fourth-quickest time.

“This was about as good a first day as they could have hoped for.”

Lawrence Barretto F1 Journalist

The Australian driver, who by his own admission hopes to be battling further up the grid after AlfaTauri’s poor form last season, was certainly a surprise contender in Bahrain, confident in the team’s improvements during the break and seemingly benefitting from the increased alignment between VCARB and its sister team, Red Bull.

“I’m sure the long-term and big picture is to be fighting at the front of the midfield,” Ricciardo said. “I’m not sure that we start the season there but I think when we came into Abu Dhabi [the 2023 season finale] with some updates the car felt pretty good.”

“There’s definitely some positives but it’s clear that we still have some lap time to find. The general feel and balance is actually OK so it’s now just finding a bit more lap time.”