In Budapest, Hungary, Daniel Ricciardo laudably resumed his career in Formula One. He exhibited his skills with finesse but couldn’t help reflecting on how a hit dealt by Zhou Guanyu in the early laps compromised his chance to score some valuable points. The Australian racer started and concluded the race in the 13th position, having endured a hit from behind courtesy of the Alfa Romeo driver at the race’s opening corner.
Zhou’s miscalculation of his brake point saw him collide with Ricciardo. The impact hurled Ricciardo into Pierre Gasly of the Alpine team. By the conclusion of lap one, Ricciardo found himself at the back of the field. The situation could have been far more fruitful had that initial hit been avoided. “If we stayed ahead and held position at the start I believe we could have really fought for a points finish today,” reflected Ricciardo post-race.
Despite the unexpected collision, Ricciardo‘s vehicle got through the ordeal surprisingly unscathed. The Australian driver inspected the vehicle after the race, noticing minor damage to the diffuser’s back. However, his team assured him it was fairly trivial. “I’d love to say I could have gone a second quicker but I think the car was more or less fine!” Ricciardo humorously noted.
Ricciardo‘s post-collision race unreaveled with a prolonged final phase on medium tyres. This strategy was a product of Ricciardo‘s early request for an out-of-sequence pitstop aiming to get his AlphaTauri some unrestricted room to perform. “I was kind of just stuck behind a bit of a train behind Sargeant and someone else and I knew in dirty air, even with these new cars this circuit is definitely a hard one to follow,” he detailed.
His team answered his request for some clear air by pitting him relatively early. However, this move again landed him amidst traffic. Therefore, Ricciardo requested his team to prioritize a strategy promising him more clear air, due to the challenges in overtaking and their car’s compromised top speed.
Driving in clear air proved instructive for Ricciardo, as it enhanced his understanding of his new machine, which incidentally, he only drove for the first time on Friday. Apart from getting used to the car, Ricciardo seemed in excellent physical form, despite not engaging in race distances for eight months. “Honestly just coming into it physically, not doing a race distance in eight months… Especially round here it’s actually one of the tougher ones. That’s one of the biggest smiles I have right now, it felt pretty good out there,” he remarked.
When asked about his physical condition during the race, the Formula One driver stated, “I actually felt a lot better than I thought,” He further detailed his expectation of running out of stamina by the mid-race point, but to his elation, he found himself encouraged at the halfway mark. However, Ricciardo acknowledged that he probably didn’t have enough drink in the car, inferring mild dehydration during the race.