Ricciardo shows encouraging signs in China
DANIEL Ricciardo has kicked off his weekend by finally showing a glimpse to the rest of Formula One why Renault has invested so heavily in him this season, posting the sixth-quickest time of Practice 1 at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The Australian has been blighted by engine problems, among other things, since joining the French manufacturer and is yet to finish a race for his new team, let alone score a point.
He has also been consistently outperformed by his teammate Nico Hulkenberg in nearly every session this season in what is sure to be one of the year's most closely contested teammate battles in the paddock this season.
But there finally seemed to be light at the end of the tunnel for Ricciardo, who was donning a new helmet design at F1's 1000th grand prix - a retro style in tribute to Australian racing legend Sir Jack Brabham, who won three world championships in his career.
"I don't want to say I'm nowhere (with my overtaking), but of course I was a bit of a standout in a Red Bull car," Ricciardo told ESPN before FP1.
"As yet, I haven't had that level of confidence on braking as I did last year.
"It's more on a knife edge in that area and I've noticed I'm locking a wheel here or there.
"But I think your style will always be a part of you and I still want to be that aggressive driver on the brakes. But that will come with confidence.
"That's what I want to get back to. I still want my competitors to fear me."
Ricciardo posted the sixth-quickest time in the session on the track that he won on last year, ahead of the man who replaced him at Red Bull, Pierre Gasly, while Hulkenberg could only manage 12th.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, who made a costly mistake in Bahrain last time out to miss out on a podium finish, was the quickest man on track ahead of Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and his Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc.