Red Bull reveal to make Ricciardo cringe
AUSSIE F1 ace Daniel Ricciardo may have his head held high after finishing strong with Renault on day four of pre-season testing, but nobody can deny this titbit from his former boss would have stung.
Likely wanting to put all thoughts of Red Bull out of his mind ahead of a huge 2019 season, the newly-appointed Renault superstar had to deal with his old team tearing it up on the track in Barcelona this week.
A new partnership with engine supplier Honda sees the Austrian-based team turn a new leaf going into the new season after a horror run of technical issues ruined Ricciardo's back end of 2018.
A solid start from Max Verstappen - who hailed the new engine's reliability after completing 237 laps over the course week - all but quashed the team's worries about changing manufacturers.
Motorsport advisor Helmut Marko revealed the energy drink team had never gone into a season on such a high note, insisting they had entered a "new period" ahead of lights out in Melbourne next month.
"So far if I talk about Red Bull and Toro Rosso, we had a very good time," Marko told Sky Sports.
"I would say we never had such good preparation for the season. For both teams.
"It's a new period. We don't look back. We look forward," he said. "It's a very good relationship.
"The concern was of course reliability and so far that's not a problem at all. It's a new culture as well. But it fits well with our people."
For Ricciardo, who retired from a whopping eight races last year before pulling the pin on Red Bull, the news of his old car being fitted with a reliable and perhaps speedier engine must be hard to swallow.
Even still, Marko believes the Italians are still the quickest of the year so far with the Scuderia fighting tooth and nail to recover from a late season slip in 2018.
"What I saw yesterday on the circuit, Ferrari for sure at the moment is the fastest car. Behind that it's Red Bull and Mercedes. Let's see what can do until Melbourne," he said.
"But we are quite optimistic that this year we can win races from our own strength, and not only if others have trouble or special circuits like Monte Carlo or Singapore."
Ricciardo is still feeling out the cabin of his new home inside Renault's car but is confident he can shake things up atop the pecking order despite driving for a team which has struggled in recent years.
"I'm feeling more and more comfortable each time I step into the car," Ricciardo said on Renault's Twitter page.
"We didn't put in as many laps as we planned but that's testing and we were caught up with some smaller issues which meant we were stuck inside the garage. "The timing looks good on paper but it is impossible to be sure of the respective plans toput our lap times in perspective."
Toro Rosso's Thai rookie Alexander Albon was second fastest having led the lunchtime timesheetswith a lap of 1:17.637 while champions Mercedes unlocked a little more pace and went faster than Ferrari.
The relative pace of the two frontrunning teams from 2018 remained unclear, with Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas suggesting the Italians were a step ahead while Ferrari's Charles Leclerc accused the champions of "sandbagging".
British-born Albon, one of three F2 graduates making their F1 race debuts when the season starts with the Australian GP in Melbourne on March 17, completed a whopping 136 laps - on top of 132 on Tuesday.
Britain's five-times world champion Lewis Hamilton was fifth, just behind Bottas who set his best lap on the softest and fastest tyres, but did his stint in the colder morning temperatures.
Ferrari's Leclerc was sixth on harder tyres than any of those above him. Alfa Romeo's Italian Antonio Giovinazzi did the mostlaps of all on Thursday (154), but also twice brought out the red flags, while British rookie George Russell managed the fewest (17) in the Williams.
Poland's Robert Kubica was also on track for Williams, who only started testing on Wednesday afternoon, and did 48 laps.
- with Alan Baldwinm, Reuters