“The field is tighter”: Daniel Ricciardo claims technological advancement has reduced margin of error in F1

F1 Grand Prix of Spain - Qualifying
Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB talks to the media in the Paddock during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on June 22, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Daniel Ricciardo believes technological advancement in modern F1 has bunched the field, leaving a narrow margin for errors. Speaking to onsite media after the Spanish GP, the RB driver also claimed he was enjoying the process of working with the team to identify room for improvement.

Qualifying 18th on the grid, Daniel Ricciardo managed to drive a strong race to finish 15th ahead of Yuki Tsunoda. The Australian had a mixed weekend where he was the quickest in FP1 and FP3, but in FP2 and qualifying, he was less than a tenth behind his teammate. The upgrades brought to the car by RB did not seem to have given them a boost in performance.

The qualifying performance led to both RB drivers being knocked out of Q1 after a series of weekends where at least one of them made it to the top 10. After the frustrating qualifying session, Daniel Ricciardo reckoned the members of the team did feel disappointed. With a well-executed race and some good overtaking, the 34-year-old managed to finish P15 but did not have the pace to move any further up the grid while his teammate finished second last.

Ricciardo felt that in recent years in F1, the data, simulators, onboards and technology at play have bunched the field. He concluded that the margin for error was lesser. Asked if the disappointment and frustration within the team after the Spanish GP qualifying forced him to perform, Daniel Ricciardo said:

“I mean I'm definitely I'm all in you know. I am certainly putting everything into it to try and get everything out of it. You know it's not that, I think back to obviously it's a long time ago, but I think back to like eight to ten years ago, I feel like it did come a little easier. But I also feel like just naturally with more data now, more on-boards, more sims, the field is tighter. I feel like every driver in the same car, maybe 10 years ago, there is, I'm pulling this number out of my ar*e, but maybe a second. Now, it might be five tenths or something.”
“So you just, a bad day these days, pays much more of a price than I feel it used to. So that's it, you just can't afford to have you know a bad day. So that's probably for that you dig a little deeper. But from a technical side and feedback and that yeah, I feel like I'm probably doing more than I ever have. But in a way that I'm enjoying. I am super enthusiastic to go back to the treehouse now and just get everyone together and try to understand everything that happened. Not only in the race but over the course of the weekend. So maybe just with age I’m enjoying this process more,” he added.

Daniel Ricciardo reckons his feedback from the race will help RB understand their package better

Daniel Ricciardo claimed there was plenty of feedback and notes to give the team after the Spanish GP. In terms of car performance, he reckoned their package did not deliver as expected. Although he was able to deliver a strong performance in the race, he claimed there was enough data and feedback that would help them understand their sudden drop in performance.

Daniel Ricciardo claimed both RB drivers had a good feeling with the car but were baffled by the result in the qualifying. Asked about RB's performance at the Spanish GP weekend, Daniel Ricciardo said:

“Yeah it's actually, so yesterday, I didn't have a bad feeling in qualifying. I felt like you know in the debrief Yuki and myself both were like we did good laps, you know there was a little bit in turn 12. But honestly, it was we felt like the balance and that wasn't bad. We just, I think we simply lacked the load and we probably don't really get everything out of the new package. But today in the race, I definitely felt a few more limitations. So these are the notes I give back to the team now and see what we can come up with.”

Asked about the sudden drop in car performance after Canada, Daniel Ricciardo said:

“Yeah, I think from a competitiveness [standpoint], we weren't really there. It was a really strange weekend for us to have dropped off so much. But you know my race today honestly I felt good, I was happy with the race, happy with what I got out of it. But yeah 15th is not something that we can be happy about. But with the package we had this weekend, I honestly don't think we could have done anything better. So I don't want to say that makes everything okay, it doesn't, but we need to move on and plenty of notes and feedback from the race today to give to the team tonight. And yeah the next 48-72 hours yeah lots lots of things to look at.”

Despite a good race and a strong drive, Daniel Ricciardo was not able to gather any points in Barcelona. With the next two race tracks more suited to his driving style, it will be interesting to see if the consistent form sustains over the triple header. With a sprint format scheduled at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, it will be important for both drivers to deliver at the top of their game.

Given RB’s performance in Spain, it will be important for them to make up for the Spanish weekend over the next two races in the triple header to maintain the gap to their rivals. They are currently in sixth place with a total of 28 points, but their rivals Alpine have managed to improve their car and could catch up if RB continues its point-less streak through the next two races.

In the driver's standings, Daniel Ricciardo is currently 12th and has scored nine points so far. He will have to continue his consistent streak and capitalize on the next two race weekends.

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Edited by Prathik BR
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