Daniel Ricciardo’s return to the Formula 1 grid with AlphaTauri proved to be a success in qualifying at the Hungarian Grand Prix. While his teammate Yuki Tsunoda faced difficulties, Ricciardo managed to secure 13th place on the grid, beating Tsunoda in Q1. A huge breakthrough for the Australians’ comeback into F1.
Securing the 13th place on the grid, Ricciardo was content with the result, especially because he won the first team duel against Tsunoda. Speaking about his expectations, Ricciardo considered Tsunoda a good reference and was pleased to ride on equal footing with him from the start.
“I had no idea where to expect myself on the starting grid, so 13th place is kind of irrelevant,” he says. “My reference is currently Yuki.”
Despite limited seat time, Ricciardo is confident
Despite limited time in the car, Ricciardo felt comfortable and confident, having quickly identified areas of improvement during practice confirming that he “was very confident.”,
“But I think all of us can easily get to 95 percent. It’s those last percent,” said Ricciardo.
“I think I found a little bit in qualifying but I’m sure there’s more to come.”
Regarding the new qualifying format with fewer sets of tyres, Ricciardo remained composed, as the conditions applied equally to all drivers. He admitted that using hard tires in the first qualifying section required some adaptation, but the subsequent soft tires in Q2 provided a performance boost.
“but because it was the same for everyone and nobody had any experience with it this year, I didn’t complain,” said the AlphaTauri driver.
Good lap despite tricky conditions
Once the hard tyres were out of the way for the initial part of qualifying, Riccardo was happier with the softer allocation saying: “of course it’s nice if you then get softer tires in Q2. Your Delta is always a little faster as a result, and of course it’s always nice when you see a minus instead of something positive,”
“I was quite relaxed before qualifying. I didn’t take it lightly, but I was happy to be back and to be able to push the car to the limit,” said Ricciardo. “I haven’t had that in the past two years, and that’s why I needed the break.”
“So I made a good step. The lap was pretty good,” he says. “But it’s difficult with these temperatures and the last sector. You rely so much on the grip on the rear axle that nobody would say that the car feels fantastic in these conditions.”
“I have to keep that in mind.”
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Ricciardo: More to do on Sunday’s Grand Prix
Ricciardo acknowledged that the race on Sunday posed a greater challenge, especially given AlphaTauri’s urgent need for points, being last in the World Championship. He recognized that he still had much to learn about tire management and the car’s behaviour with a full fuel load. While he anticipated challenges, Ricciardo remained hopeful of learning quickly to secure valuable points for the team.
“I did maybe a run of eight laps. I still have a lot to learn tomorrow in terms of tire management and how the car behaves with a lot of fuel,” he says.
“And when the tires collapse, I’ll probably learn a little more about the car and also discover the weaknesses,” he says. “I think there will be rounds where I’m not that good, but then there will also be times where I’ll do better because I’m learning.”
“I don’t want to say that negatively but I will inevitably pick up a lot of things. Hopefully I can learn quickly and if we somehow find ourselves in the points it would be huge,” said the Australian.
“Of course we need points as a team, but above all I have to make sure that I have the car under control. That’s the first checkbox I have to tick.”
What Ricciardo expects for the GP
The Australian emphasized the need to stay out of trouble during the race, aiming to complete all the laps and gain crucial experience. Acknowledging the physical demands of the Hungarian Grand Prix’s 70-lap race, Ricciardo expressed confidence in his fitness and his ability to handle the challenging conditions.
“I’m feeling good now and I can move my neck quite well, so I think so far so good,” he says.
“But 70 laps here and in this heat, even if you have race fitness, that’s always one of the tougher races. Here and Singapore are probably the two toughest.”
Despite the tough competition, Ricciardo maintained a positive outlook, finding enjoyment in the challenge presented by Red Bull. As he adapts to the demands of Formula 1 racing once again, Ricciardo remains focused on maximizing his performance and contributing to AlphaTauri’s success.
“It’s another thing Red Bull likes to challenge us with,” he laughs. “‘Yes, Daniel just jump in next week and drive in Budapest.’ But it’s all good. I’m enjoying it.”
Meanwhile, Ricciardo’s teammate Tsunoda expressed disappointment with his 17th-place finish in qualifying. Despite having the pace, he struggled to maximize his performance and was frustrated by the missed opportunity to secure a better position on the grid. However, Tsunoda acknowledged the learning experience and remained determined to improve in future races.
“It was difficult today. Being eliminated in Q1 is not great. It’s tough and I’m disappointed,” the Japanese driver admits,
“It’s a shame I didn’t end up in the position I would have liked. The pace was there and I feel like we took a step forward with the new rear wing. I just couldn’t bring it together and maximize my performance,” he says angrily.
“It’s good to learn from this for the future, but I’m very frustrated that I missed the chance to maximize my pace.”