until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Ricciardo gets his F1 chassis wish - but it's only a 'happy accident'

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

A “happy accident” means Daniel Ricciardo will get his wish of a new chassis from his RB team for Formula 1’s upcoming Chinese Grand Prix.

Ricciardo has pushed Red Bull’s second team to look for possible underlying car issues due to his discomfort in the opening races, in which he has trailed team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.

The eight-time grand prix winner said at the previous race in Australia he was not capable of replicating Tsunoda’s cornering speed in this car and ended a disappointing home weekend still hoping that RB might uncover a hidden issue to explain his difficulties.

That isn't the the case - RB does not believe there is anything between the cars to explain the performance disparity - but the team will take the opportunity to rule out an unusual chassis discrepancy.

Ricciardo revealed on Thursday in Japan, when asked by The Race, that he had triggered a conversation about changing the chassis.

"I certainly addressed that,” he said. “Just again to make sure.

“There has been, in the past, a bit of difference. I’ve driven in F1 a long time now but you can find some differences.

“So that was certainly something I raised the possibility of - if I’m still struggling, before we just tell me I’m s**t, let’s at least get that sorted and put everything to bed.”

Ricciardo hinted “probably for China we’ll change a few more things” and it has been confirmed that will include the chassis.

This will be for Ricciardo’s “peace of mind” more than any expectation of it changing anything and the team has even clarified a new chassis is not being readied directly in response to his issues.

RB racing director Alan Permane called it a “happy accident” that the team already intended its spare chassis to be used soon.

That makes facilitating a change for Ricciardo at the Chinese GP, in two weeks’ time, easier even though Permane said it is “ever so unlikely” a problem exists.

“I don’t see it as being a performance differentiator and certainly not something we want to be hopping drivers in and out of,” Permane said.

“It’s a happy accident we had one coming. And it doesn’t make sense to give it to Yuki, it makes sense to give it to Daniel.

“We’re not bringing a chassis because of his issues, let’s be clear about that. It all fits together.”

The reason that change will only happen in China has to do with chassis mileage, according to the team. This likely means RB was preparing the spare chassis to be used anyway to share the mileage between the three across the season.

As Ricciardo is uncomfortable, and Tsunoda is performing well, it makes sense for Ricciardo to immediately switch to the new chassis.

The RB has a new floor at Suzuka, although it is not expected to influence the car’s handling characteristics.

That could come with bigger upgrades to follow, as this is the last of RB’s winter development work – new parts from Miami onwards are the result of work conducted to address certain car issues that have arisen since testing.

Unlike at McLaren, where Ricciardo was terribly hamstrung by a lack of confidence and feel under braking and on corner entry, his limitation versus Tsunoda in the RB this season is predominantly through the high-speed corners.

Ricciardo implied that one explanation could be that some set-up changes to help him feel more confident just took away an edge of speed.

“We probably focused a little bit of our set-up on those areas to give me that confidence and then the low- and medium-speed stuff we were pretty much there,” he said.

“Then probably on top of that, it’s not a McLaren situation, it’s just important that I keep working with my engineers and don’t start taking too many suggestions or too much advice from the outside.

“Of course I would’ve wanted more results from the first three races. I’m not happy with it. But it’s important we ultimately stay on course and don’t get sidetracked.”

Permane said that there are more things that could be done to make Ricciardo more comfortable in the car.

But he confirmed that would make it inherently slower - implying that Ricciardo needs to be able to adjust to how the car behaves in its current form.

“It's not an easy one,” Permane said.

“You can address those kinds of things with set-up [but] what you don't want to do is make the car slower.

“We've been very cautious to not make it more comfortable but a slower car.

“In a perfect world, you'd dial it out and give him his confidence and slowly creep back to get the maximum performance.

“There's no reason Daniel can't drive the car like it is, in its quickest form, that's clear and I'm pretty sure he understands that.

“That's what we need to do, give him the quickest possible car.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks