Ricciardo ready to click after dismal start to F1 year

Daniel Ricciardo predicts he will bounce back at the Japanese Grand Prix following a dismal start to what could prove a make-or-break season for the Australian Formula One ace.

The 34-year-old has not lost the sport's biggest smile despite his mystifying struggles in his RB at the season's opening grand prix in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and back home in Australia.

He has been consistently outdriven by his Japanese teammate Yuki Tsunoda and hasn't yet finished higher than 12th in the three races, prompting comparisons with his previous underwhelming spell at McLaren.

It all feels like a long time since the start of the campaign when there were plenty of suggestions this would be the year the resurgent Australian would demonstrate in Red Bull's junior team why he was still equipped to return to the main outfit where he enjoyed so much success.

Ricciardo has finished no higher than 12th in his three grand prix for RB this season.

At Suzuka before this weekend's round four, though, Ricciardo has been keen to point out that this is not another "McLaren situation" and that he's close to making a major breakthrough again.

"It’s funny because, on paper, it hasn’t been good -- and I know obviously as well that the results haven’t been what I wanted," he told reporters on Thursday.

"But personally, the confidence and the happiness and all of that is really unchanged, so it’s really just a matter now of getting a result and kind of putting a few things to rest. 

"The place I’m in personally, I feel really good and that’s why it’s probably been a little bit weird to comprehend why the result hasn’t happened yet.

"It's been three races, but I know that I don't need to change anything, it'll come. It's just a little bit here and there.

"Whatever is maybe just missing at the moment will click, and I think it's one weekend away from that.

"Even in Melbourne (at the Australian GP) where I was disappointed on paper with the weekend, of course, (after finishing 12th) and not getting points, when we kind of analyse the race, it wasn't as sad as it probably looked. 

"We had good race pace, there are some good things that we're taking about, and we just need to put it together now. And that I will do.

"I said I would in Melbourne - and I fell short. But I will do it this weekend."

Ricciardo also reckoned a spell back at home had reinvigorated him for the challenge ahead.

"It's always nice to get home for a few days and come here refreshed," he said. "Obviously I can’t predict what’s going to happen this weekend but, standing here now, I certainly feel I can make a good result happen.”

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