In 2023, the season saw AlphaTauri bring back home only 25 points. Before the summer break, the decision was taken to dismiss Nyck De Vries and give the seat to Daniel Ricciardo, who soon after got injured and gave his place to the promising young Liam Lawson for 5 Grands Prix. Thus, 4 different drivers drove the AT04, which turned out to be a car that left a lot to be desired.
In the drive for better results, the Faenza team decided to make a radical change.
For starters, the name of the team was changed from Alpha Tauri to Visa Cash App Racing Bulls. In addition, new sponsors joined the team, including the well-known clothing brand Hugo Boss, and of course, the brands that the team is named after.
However, sponsors were not the only innovation introduced for the 2024 season, there were also some movements in key positions: Laurent Mekies replaced Franz Toszt as Team Principal, Tim Goss will be Technical Director and Alan Permane, who left Alpine in 2023, will be Sporting Director.
With all these changes, the 8-time Grand Prix winning driver says they should find themselves fighting in the middle of the grid this time around:
“There are a lot of new personnel, some big partners coming onboard. The team has always taken itself seriously, but I feel like this is another step up. It’s no longer just a platform for Red Bull Racing, it’s a time for us to fight at the front of the midfield.
“I like what’s happened, the changes that have taken place. There’s something about the team, the mindset is a bit different, kind of like a point to prove. It’s cool. It’s fun.”
The relationship between Red Bull and Visa Cash App Racing Bulls will be closer, which will increase its chances of gaining some positions in the grid, as the suspension and gearbox will be provided by the reigning constructors’ champion.
The Australian said the goal is a top-five finish, which would be a significant improvement from last year’s best finish of P9.
On the other hand, he is hopeful it’ll be possible to achieve the very positive result in the first half of the season already:
“You have to aim high, but being in this sport so long, you want to remain realistic as you don’t want to end up ultimately disappointed,
“Top-fives should be a target and if we get into that position, maybe some podiums present themselves. Of course we want to win but, you know, let’s…I think we made steps last year, let’s make a few more steps.
“Do I think top-five results are on the table – and could they be on the table in the first half of the season? I’d like to think so,” he added.
As a result of the lack of Grands Prix he took part in last year, the 34-year-old said he didn’t need a break as much as the rest of the grid.
Ricciardo said he felt good and had no doubts about his preparation ahead of pre-season testing in Bahrain. The Perth native says the winter break wasn’t just a moment to recover for him and that it won’t feel like it’s been that long once he will be back in his car:
“Personally, the off-season didn’t feel like I was just on the couch. I mentally stayed in it so getting back in the car won’t feel like I haven’t driven for a few months – so I expect to get back into the swing straight away.”
Finally, Ricciardo added that there are a lot of things they need to be aware of with the car for the start of the season, but that in the final races of last season, they found several things that helped both him and his teammate Yuki Tsunoda:
“I would say the way we developed the car through the tail end of last season, and we definitely found some things which at first definitely worked for me, and then I think Yuki found the strengths in it with his driving style, having a good Abu Dhabi.
“There is a lot to stay pretty upbeat about coming into the start of the year.”
With pre-season testing and the Bahrain GP just a couple of week away, Daniel Ricciardo has been very positive, but the outcome of all the changes Visa Cash App Racing Bulls has gone through over the last three months remains to be seen.