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Mekies: Ricciardo in need of ‘more comfortable car’ to boost results

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RB team principal Laurent Mekies has acknowledged Daniel Ricciardo’s early struggles with the Faenza-based squad, but admits the team must also work hard to provide the Aussie with a car “he’s more comfortable with”.

Ricciardo struggled to match teammate Yuki Tsunoda's pace in qualifying in Bahrain and in Saudi Arabia, while neither driver put points on the board at either venue.

The Aussie’s display in Jeddah, where he finished P16, was further marred by a spin in the closing stages of the race.

Sadly, there were few positives for Ricciardo to take away from his home race in Melbourne last weekend where he qualified P18 - ten positions behind Tsunoda – and finished P12 while his teammate charged to an impressive 7th place finish.

Red Bull’s top brass, including Helmut Marko, has been somewhat puzzled by Ricciardo’s underperformance relative to Tsunoda.

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But overall, while the pressure is likely building on the 34-year-old, rumors of his impending replacement by Red Bull reserve Liam Lawson are reportedly wide of the mark.

“I think Ricciardo needs a safe and confident car. I hope the team can give him that so he can at least be on par with Yuki,” said Marko.

And Mekies echoed the Austrian’s view.

"The truth is that we need to give him a car that he's more comfortable with," said the Frenchman, speaking to "Yuki had a car that he was very comfortable with from FP1 here.

"We probably reached that stage only in qualifying with Daniel, and from there you need to build. And we feel that he has certainly done that in the race.

"He was as fast as the guys getting the points today. So we will have been fighting for the points with a more decent starting position.

"It's another positive to take home, the fact that Daniel has produced a very strong race as well, even if he was starting from the back."

Ricciardo was understandably mystified by the extent of the gap between himself and Tsunoda after Saturday’s qualifying in Melbourne.

But RB CEO Peter Bayer believes that Ricciardo was overly critical of himself in Australia, noting that there was little to choose between Tsunoda and the local hero in terms of race pace in the second half of Sunday’s event, once the latter had settled into the grove.

“I think he misinterpreted a bit the data," said Bayer. "We actually had a look with him on what we have seen.

"And ultimately, I'm also taking positives away for Daniel, because he found his pace again in qualifying. I think if he could have done that lap on Friday, then he could have built on it.

"And honestly, I'm sure that he would have been in the top 10 as well in the qualifying. So we just need to take that away.

"On Sunday it's difficult, because in terms of traffic, in terms of how you manage the race and where you position yourself, it's also a track where it's not easy to overtake.

"Honestly, he did a good job, solid job and we know that we can build on what we've seen here."

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