Riccardo pleased to 'shake off the cobwebs' with Austria test

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Daniel Ricciardo admits it was good to "shake off the cobwebs" after testing the 2018 Renault in Austria on Tuesday.

The Australian completed 115 laps around the Red Bull Ring as he stepped into the cockpit for the first time since the final day of pre-season testing on February 29.

And despite some initial rustiness, the seven-time Grand Prix winner soon felt back in the groove.

“It was good to get back into it,” Ricciardo said on the F1 Nation podcast.

“The first few laps it felt a little foreign, but it’s also like all things - when you’ve been doing something pretty much your whole life, it doesn’t take long to remember the feeling, and it all feels very normal very quickly.

“But certainly getting in the first time, leaving the pits and the first few laps felt a little strange, but I’m really glad we got to do it because shaking off the cobwebs, even your general body soreness that you get after the first day, I feel like I’ve gone through that now."

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The test also gave Ricciardo and Renault the chance to adapt to the new reality that has been created with the aim of protecting personnel from the coronavirus.

"It was certainly different, all our debriefs, all our meetings were happening over video calls," he explained.

"Most of us were sitting kind of in the same area, but at distance, so we were all basically doing our debrief through video meetings, everyone's got the mask on in the garage.

"And the mechanic who straps you in, I told him not to get too close to me! It's pretty intimate when they start strapping you in, your crotch straps and all that.

"Everyone's getting on with it, I think there's just a little bit more awareness of personal space. Like all things whenever there's a change you take a little bit of time to adapt, but in due time we do adapt."

Looking forward to the new season, which begins next month in Austria, Ricciardo downplayed any advantage he and the other drivers testing F1 cars beforehand may gain.

However, he did predict plenty of one-upmanship as drivers try to get the early edge on their respective rivals.

"We're going to get plenty of practice, so the race weekend will go as normal," he said. "We're going to get plenty of seat time before race day.

"But the lights are going to go out and for sure we're all going to be showing everyone, 'I trained harder in my quarantine,' or 'I'm less rusty than you are.' I'm sure some driver egos will get in the way.

"Or everyone will be really cautious, 'this feels foreign!' I think it's going to be pretty exciting. We don't really know how many races we're going to get this year, so you're probably going to get the mentality of let's make this one count."