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Fresh chassis brings hope for Ricciardo's dwindling F1 career

Fresh chassis brings hope for Ricciardo's dwindling F1 career
© Reuters
Daniel Ricciardo remains optimistic about reviving his ailing Formula 1 career.

Daniel Ricciardo remains optimistic about reviving his ailing Formula 1 career.

The beleaguered Australian aimed to overshadow his RB teammate Yuki Tsunoda this year and secure a spot beside Max Verstappen at Red Bull Racing for 2025.

Yet, Tsunoda has consistently outperformed him, fueling rumors that Shanghai could mark Ricciardo's final F1 race at 34 before being replaced by Liam Lawson.

"Everybody in the team is shutting that (speculation) down," Ricciardo stated before 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 confessed to losing his drive and confidence during his ill-fated last season at McLaren in 2022, but claims the current year feels different.

Prior to the China GP, he requested a new chassis or monocoque from the Faenza-based RB team.

Alan Permane, the sporting director, complied, although he expressed doubts about it impacting Ricciardo's performance significantly.

"The reason I say it's ever so unlikely is because it really is," he remarked. "It's not a performance differentiator."

However, equipped with his new monocoque in Shanghai, Ricciardo managed to outpace 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."

Last year, it's believed that Christian Horner played a significant role in salvaging Ricciardo's faltering career, despite Red Bull colleague Dr Helmut Marko's preference for placing Lawson in the 2024 car next to Tsunoda.

For now, Horner continues to support the Australian.

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

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Red Bull team advisor Helmut Marko is seen before practice on March 8, 2024
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