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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during day three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202402230784 // Usage for editorial use only //

Ricciardo: VCARB can do better than eighth

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 23: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during day three of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 23, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202402230784 // Usage for editorial use only //

Daniel Ricciardo will not be cutting any corners in saying his Red Bull-owned Formula 1 team’s awkward new name, even if Visa Cash App RB hardly trips off the tongue (we’re calling it: VCARB) he expects to be fighting higher up than last season.

The Italy-based team formerly known at first as Scuderia Toro Rosso when Red Bull took ownership in 2005, then AlphaTauri and before that Minardi, start the season in Bahrain next week with new management, closer ties to champions Red Bull and a mouthful of fresh identity.

Ricciardo was fourth fastest on the first day of Bahrain F1 Testing last Wednesday and fifth on Thursday. Some have already suggested VCARB could emerge as dark horses but the Australian played that down.

“We believe we can do better than eighth,” he said, speaking during a break in filming for the team’s Austrian Vodka sponsor NEFT and dressed in black tie and tuxedo. If people are expecting an Aston (Martin) and (Fernando) Alonso (situation) from last year, and fighting for a podium from race one, we’re obviously not there yet.

“I’ve got an idea of who’s quick and maybe who’s struggling but…it’s not even that I’m scared to comment on it, the truth is that I’m just still relatively unsure. Even if some teams are within a couple of tenths, a couple of tenths could be five positions on the grid. It can swing pretty quickly,” reckoned Ricciardo, who raced for Red Bull between 2014-18.

What’s in an F1 team name?

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia driving the (3) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 leaves the garage during day two of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 22, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202402220430 // Usage for editorial use only //

As for the awkward F1 team name, Riccardo told Reuters after Bahrain F1 Testing, “I know commentators are like ‘That’s too long’ and whatever, but the truth is they are helping us go racing so I am very happy to call it the full name.

“I know people are going to shorten it and I’ve already heard RB and whatever. I will say ‘Do as you wish’, but you’ll hear me say ‘Visa Cash App RB’.

“I know for sure people are saying VCARB (the chassis name is VCARB01) but that sounds like a (energy drink) competitor to Red Bull. It doesn’t sound quite right,” explained the Australian veteran

The name is a talking point for the lack of a clear identity without the title sponsors and also because the team look likely to be getting more mentions than last year when they finished eighth overall.

He is openly angling for a return to Red Bull if fellow veteran Sergio Perez leaves at the end of the season, and said the senior team’s new RB20 car had made a big impression.

Ricciardo: Red Bull: Relentless in their approach for this year

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - FEBRUARY 22: Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during day two of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on February 22, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202402220443 // Usage for editorial use only //

While Ferrari were fastest in testing, Red Bull still looked like the team to beat with an eye-catching evolution of the winner of 21 of 22 races last year.

Ricciardo recalled of his former team: “They were at the front a decade ago and then saw Mercedes go on this massive run and I feel like they really just want to make an absolute statement not to be overtaken again, or to hold onto this front spot for as long as possible.

“I think that’s why they’ve been absolutely relentless in their approach for this year in designing something like they have. I know for fans, they are probably like ‘Man, I want to see a different winner’ but from a competitive point of view you have to admire it.”

Ricciardo left McLaren at the end of 2022 and returned to a race seat with AlphaTauri, alongside Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda, for seven races last year.

Having been part of the driver ‘F1 Silly Season’ tango, with plenty of drivers out of contract at the end of the year, he was happy for the spotlight to fall on others after Lewis Hamilton’s shock move from Mercedes to Ferrari in 2025.

Ricciardo commented: “I was just happy to be watching and not being directly involved. I just want to do my job here and hopefully, it leads to big things. To think a year ahead seems crazy because I know how quickly the sport can change. From one year to the next, I was out and then I was back in.

“Taking it race by race helps me stay present and ultimately just in love with it,” revealed Ricciardo, ahead of his 14th season in F1. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)