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Ricciardo tempers hopes at Aust Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo is tempering expectations ahead of the return of Formula One to Melbourne.

The Australian ace reckons a top-10 finish at the Australian Grand Prix would be somewhat of a victory for his struggling McLaren team.

Ricciardo and his fellow F1 drivers get their first look at a redeveloped Albert Park circuit on Friday.

The two practice sessions will be insightful amid widespread track changes undertaken during the COVID-enforced two-year absence of F1 from Australia.

“I am beyond excited to get back out on track in Melbourne,” Ricciardo said.

“Nothing beats a home crowd and the Australian fans are some of the best in the world.”

Ricciardo spent more than a week in his home city of Perth after failing to finish the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

That Jeddah race followed a 14th place in the season-opener in Bahrain as McLaren battle with teething problems in their cars.

In a nutshell, Ricciardo’s McLaren is suffering a lack of grip to the track, particularly slow when cornering, resulting in widespread headaches.

Ricciardo was involved in the redevelopment tweaks to the Albert Park track.

His inside knowledge was a factor as the entire circuit was resurfaced and seven corners altered – including two removed altogether – in a bid to offer more overtaking chances.

But Ricciardo admits: “We still have a long way to go.

“We’re focused on the task at hand.

“Let’s get back out there, fight as hard as we can, and hopefully put on a bit of a show”

Most pundits tip the show to be dominated again by Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who won in Bahrain and was edged to second in Jeddah last month by Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen.

Ferrari has already banked a double podium with Leclerc holding a 12-point lead from his teammate Carlos Sainz, with Verstappen some 20 points behind the leader.

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