The Australian finished Wednesday’s session in fourth overall, 1.2s off pacesetter Max Verstappen in the Red Bull RB20, but on a par with the McLaren of Lando Norris and the Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.

The team formerly called AlphaTauri has undergone a revamp over the winter, with Laurent Mekies coming in as team principal and Enstone veteran Alan Permane joining as racing director.

Despite the promising start to testing Ricciardo doesn’t believe that Wednesday’s position was representative.

“I think, start of the season, we need to be a little bit cautious,” said Ricciardo. “I think the target as the season goes on is the front of the midfield. But I would say now where we are, it’s probably more in the midfield.

“I’m not sure yet at the front. But that is certainly our target. I know some people are quite excited about us coming into the season, but I want to play it a little bit cautious.

“We have a decent car, but we still have a lot of work to do, and the numbers we brought for the test, we believe there’s still some things to find.”

Daniel Ricciardo, VCARB 01

Daniel Ricciardo, VCARB 01

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Ricciardo also says an update package used at the final race of 2023 in Abu Dhabi gave the team some momentum heading into this year.

“I think where we came in to Abu Dhabi, with some updates, the car felt pretty good,” he said.

“We made a few more changes, obviously, coming into the season. There’s definitely some positives, but clearly we still have some lap time to find.

“I know it’s just day one. But there’s definitely still some cars that are faster than us, not only the Red Bull, but I think there’s a couple others. So still some things to find, but general feel and balance is actually okay. So it’s now just finding a bit more lap time. But feeling on the car is okay.”

Ricciardo’s team-mate Yuki Tsunoda agreed the package run at last year’s finale had been a useful step towards the new car.

“We put the upgrades in the last race of 2023,” said the Japanese driver. “Many of the teams didn’t do it, and also that’s how we were pushing in 2023, so there’s a bit of time to find where we can improve.

“And also we built a new team, we reinforced a complete new team, new people, so it will take time to develop in general, also including performance as well. So hopefully it will be better for the year. It looks okay. But it’s testing, so it’s hard to say.”

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