September 26, 2023

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Ricciardo is 13th in F1 qualifying return, but he’s gearing up for the tough Hungarian Grand Prix

Ricciardo is 13th in F1 qualifying return, but he’s gearing up for the tough Hungarian Grand Prix

Nate SaundersEditor-in-Chief, F1July 22, 2023, 01:02 PM ET4 minutes to read

Hamilton beats Verstappen to take his first pole position in Hungary

Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position since the 2021 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix after beating Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Budapest, Hungary – Daniel Ricciardo impressed with his Formula 1 comeback as he outlasted fellow new qualifier Yuki Tsunoda to line up 13th for the Hungarian Grand Prix on Sunday.

Having sensationally substituted Nyck de Vries until the end of the season, Ricciardo’s return was a highlight Huge focus of media attention this week.

The AlphaTauri car is one of the least competitive cars on the grid, and Ricciardo’s first task if he wants to convince Red Bull that he can replace Sergio Perez in the future will be to regularly beat the lone driver in similar machines.

He did it at the first attempt on Saturday as Tsunoda failed to make it through the Q1 session.

“I had no idea where on the grid I could expect to be,” Ricciardo said after the session.

“The thirteenth place somehow seems rather irrelevant.

“Of course, my reference is Yuki at the moment. Watching from the outside, it’s a good reference, because not only this year, but already in the second half of last year, I could see with Pierre [Gasly]it is beginning to be more competitive.

“Whether I’m early or late, I think just being there is a positive for me.”

ANP via Getty Images

Ricciardo initially took a year off after two difficult seasons with McLaren, in which he struggled to get control of the car.

The Australian struggled to fine-tune his McLaren’s driving with an apparent corner-entry sensitivity, leading to confidence plummeting and results preventing a shock victory at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo said he felt comfortable with the AlphaTauri car from the first moment he got out of the pits on Friday.

“I think the positive result was, actually before the rain came in FP1 I pretty much did one lap. I got the red flag before the line. Already in one lap of driving the car I was full of some confidence.

“I wasn’t at my limit yet, but I felt like he was responding the way I expected him to. Overall, I think it’s something I can feel comfortable with.”

The eight-time race winner felt he could push the AlphaTauri straight away with more confidence.

“I knew there was going to be a little bit of a hill to climb,” said Ricciardo. “I’ve been trying not to get caught up in how I’m going this weekend. But of course, I’m a race car driver. So I’ll always expect something from myself.

“I jumped in the car in qualifying, it felt really comfortable, not to be taken lightly, but I’m just happy to be back and happy to be able to push the car to the limit again.

“It’s something I haven’t always had in the last year or two, and that’s why I think I needed a vacation.”

Ricciardo has not completed a race distance since the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and has not been able to put in a long consecutive stint of laps in his new car, something he is bound to feel its impact on Sunday.

About his expectations, he said: “It’s really tough. I’ve probably only run eight laps or something like that at the moment.

“Even for me, I think there’s going to be a lot of things I have to learn tomorrow in terms of tire management, but also the car, with the fuel, when the tires go off, I think I’m probably going to start figuring out the car, those conditions, those weak points.

“I think there will probably be periods where I might not be very good. But then there will be laps where I do better because I’m learning as I go, in a way.

“I don’t want to say it negatively, but inevitably there are still a few things to catch and I hope I’m a quick learner. If we find our way up the points, that will be huge.

“I think at the moment, as a team, we need to get the points, but it’s just about making sure I’m on top of the car, at the same time as the car. That’s the first box I need to tick.”

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