At Belgium’s SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo humorously compared the attention his racing return garnered to the fanfare around a world championship victory. The Australian driver, known for his eight astonishing race wins, secured a 13th place finish for AlphaTauri at the Hungarian Grand Prix, coming in a week after replacing Nyck De Vries.
Ricciardo, who remains a favourite figure in F1, first started the season as Red Bull‘s third driver. This came after an arduous two-year representation for McLaren. Upon his triumphant return which became a key topic leading up to the July 23 Hungarian Grand Prix, Ricciardo satiated the curiosity of reporters during a packed media session at Red Bull‘s hospitality.
Fast forward a week, and Ricciardo‘s media feasting hadn’t abated. He humorously quipped on Thursday, “I thought today would’ve been a lot smaller, I thought you would’ve forgotten about me already.” He further stated, “I definitely made a point to enjoy it all. The media day, there was a lot. I think I jokingly equated it to having won a world championship given the level of interest. But you kind of just have to soak it all up and enjoy it.”
Despite having finished at the same ranking he started, Ricciardo experienced a tense moment during the very first lap, where he tumbled to the bottom after being blindsided by Zhou Guanyu. Notwithstanding, Ricciardo pivoted, closely deciding his strategy. He got out of traffic by pitting out of sequence and later finished a prolonged stint on one set of tyres.
In both qualifyings and the race itself, the Australian managed to outshine his colleague- Yuki Tsunoda. This superior performance is expected to serve as the benchmark for Red Bull‘s evaluation of Ricciardo in the current year. “I know the sport well enough not to assume every time now I’m going to be quicker. I know there is still going to be more for me to learn”, the seasoned driver agreed.
Reflecting on his comeback weekend, Ricciardo unpacked sentiments of satisfaction with the event’s progression, even as he admitted to feeling the strain of it by Monday. Acknowledging his result-oriented approach, he stated- “I felt like I had done everything I needed to”. He admitted that “a bit of bad luck at Turn 1” meant he got 13th, but regardless, he was pleased with his input throughout the weekend.
Emphasising the importance of the support from his team, he noted that “the spotlight is on the team. I think everyone handled it well.” Ricciardo was all praise for the teams adaptability to a new driver, especially under the constraints of just getting to know a week prior that he would be in the driver’s seat.