On Friday, Ricciardo provided the latest indication he is starting to turn the corner after a tough 2024 season start.

Ricciardo’s more promising pace in China was left unrewarded after a clash with Lance Stroll, but in Miami sprint qualifying the Australian took a surprising fourth starting place for Saturday morning’s 19-lap contest.

He finished four tenths off polesitter Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, revealing he made contact with the wall on his SQ2 and SQ3 laps.

“I feel really good about it,” Ricciardo told F1.com. “I’m happy with the second row, it’s awesome. On the first lap of SQ1 I made a mistake, so we were putting ourselves under a bit of pressure, but we built up from there.

“Max was surprised to be P1 with his lap and I was surprised to be P4 with mine. I expected more from the soft, but it didn’t give much more than the medium.

“We were expecting everyone to go a lot quicker and they didn’t. I touched the wall both laps as well, so I told the team I was definitely trying to get everything out of it.

“I don’t know if that made me quicker or not, but we were going for it and I had some good confidence in the car.”

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Daniel Ricciardo, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Ricciardo is still chasing his first points of the campaign and hopes he can convert his fourth starting place into a solid haul, with the top eight earning points in the sprint.

“I’d love to be more than eighth for sure, I’d love to get a few points from it,” he said.

“We’ll see what happens. I experienced it in Mexico, starting at the front is just a lot nicer than starting in 12th or 13th.

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“[Compared to] being involved in a bit of chaos on Lap 1, staying a bit cleaner at the front is like a breath of fresh air.”

Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda was eliminated in 15th place in SQ2 after struggling to put a clean enough lap together.

“The pace was good in SQ1, so the car was there,” Tsunoda said.

“We didn’t maximise it and I probably didn’t put it all together either. I think doing two push laps would have been better for us, that’s the main issue.”