Despite being thrilled about his return to the tracks, Ricciardo is aware that he’ll be navigating the AlphaTauri, the current slowest car in the grid, belonging to a team that languishes at the bottom of the constructors’ championship standings.
Complicating matters further, the AlphaTauri’s AT04 model has displayed consistent weakness on corner entry throughout the season, a fault that Ricciardo had trouble with during his stint with McLaren.
This could potentially lead to a déjà vu moment where Ricciardo confronts the same challenges that previously plagued him.
When quizzed by F1 Flow.com on Thursday at the Hungaroring about this specific issue with the AlphaTauri car, Ricciardo expressed confidence that he’s better equipped to handle it compared to his time at McLaren.
“The setback I faced in the past few years was probably due to my slight complacency where I presumed, ‘Oh, yeah, this car doesn’t suit me. I need to adapt to this and that’,” he stated.
“One can sometimes be their own worst adversary. I recall my first qualifying with McLaren where I performed well, primarily because I wasn’t overthinking then.
“I’m not overthinking now either. I’m well aware of the car’s limitations, and I’m positive it won’t be as smooth as the car [the Red Bull] I drove a week ago. But I’ll adjust accordingly.
“I had a go at it on the simulator last week, and it seemed fine. I believe I had a productive day on the simulator. It remains to be seen if this translates to reality, but ask me tomorrow once I’ve actually driven it,” said Ricciardo.
After his challenging period at McLaren, Ricciardo stated that his F1 hiatus helped him identify and understand his errors, better preparing him for his tenure at AlphaTauri.
“I’ve gleaned a lot, not just from the past two years,” he elaborated.
“Having the last six months to reflect on my career, I’ve noticed several things I would’ve done differently or areas where I should’ve spoken up or altered my approach.”
Although Ricciardo had previously expressed a desire to only return to F1 in competitive machinery, he accepted the AlphaTauri offer as he believed it was his best chance to fulfill his ‘dream’ of securing a place back at Red Bull.
Responding to why he shifted from his initial stance of wanting to race only top-tier machinery, Ricciardo explained, “A few things changed. Obviously, I had enough time off to reset and rediscover my joy for it. I could already feel this on the simulator this year.
“But more importantly, I wanted to ensure that racing was still my ultimate passion. I quickly got up to speed, and it felt great.
“I knew that after everything that transpired over the past few years, coupled with my break and re-entry into the sport, it would be a challenge to get back to the top.
“Obviously, that was my aspiration, but realism had to kick in at some point. If I wanted a seat back at Red Bull, I had to accept that it was going to be a process. This current path seems to be the most suitable one for now.
“Additionally, six months ago, I was not ready to seize an opportunity like this. However, the luxury of time has allowed me to rekindle my love for the sport. I feel like I’ve rediscovered my authentic self, probably due to the nostalgic environment I find myself in now.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 comeback
What race is Daniel Ricciardo making his comeback in?
Daniel Ricciardo is making his comeback in the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix.
Who is Ricciardo replacing in the AlphaTauri team?
Ricciardo is replacing the ousted Nyck de Vries in the AlphaTauri team.
What was the challenge Ricciardo faced at McLaren and expects to face with AlphaTauri?
At McLaren, Ricciardo struggled with the car’s weakness on corner entry. The same issue has been observed throughout the season with the AlphaTauri’s AT04 model, which he will be driving upon his return.
How is Ricciardo preparing to manage the potential challenge with AlphaTauri?
Ricciardo believes he is better equipped to manage the car’s corner entry weakness than he was during his stint at McLaren. He’s also tested the car on a simulator, which he says felt fine, and he plans to adjust to the car’s limitations.
Why did Ricciardo decide to return to F1 with AlphaTauri?
Ricciardo accepted the AlphaTauri drive as he believed it was his best chance to fulfill his dream of securing a place back at Red Bull, despite the team’s current performance. His time away from the sport also allowed him to reset and rediscover his joy for racing.
What has Ricciardo learned from his previous experiences in F1?
Ricciardo has used his time away from the sport to reflect on his career and identify mistakes he made, as well as things he would have done differently. These insights have better prepared him for his tenure at AlphaTauri.