Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Hungaroring, 2023

Ricciardo “at 95%” after ending Friday 10 places behind Tsunoda

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Daniel Ricciardo says he feels he’s already at “95 percent” after his first day of driving the AlphaTauri on his return to Formula 1.

The 34-year-old made a surprise return to the F1 grid at the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend after Red Bull decided to replace rookie Nyck de Vries with the veteran driver following the last round at Silverstone.

Ricciardo ended his first full day of running in the AlphaTauri 14th in second practice, four tenths of a second behind team mate Yuki Tsunoda. However Ricciardo believes he can find more from the car over the rest of the weekend.

“I felt comfortably quite quickly today,” Ricciardo said. “But ‘comfortable’ is 95 percent. The last few percent, right now I feel I can find that tomorrow, or at least get close to it.

“I think today I didn’t quite put the lap together but I started to feel the limit of the car. So just keep it clean tomorrow and I think I’ll be pretty content.”

Ricciardo said it was “nice to be back” in an official session again after being off the grid for the first 10 rounds of the season.

“In a way it felt normal, being back in the car, and that was nice,” he said. “This morning I think I got one dry lap, but even the one lap I already felt, ‘this is cool, it feels good again’. The afternoon, the first set of mediums was not too bad, we were kind of working away at it, and then on the soft I was still learning, putting a lap together.

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“But in general I think I got a good feeling in the car today. There’s things for me to work on, which I’m not too concerned about, and the some things on the car that we can just keep looking at and improving.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2023
Gallery: 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix practice in pictures
Despite being 10 places behind younger team mate Tsunoda in second practice, Ricciardo is not putting any stock in his position in this early phase of his comeback to the grid.

“I think positions, [are] probably not too relevant at the moment,” he said. “I think it was more just for me today to feel basically where I am with the car.

“It all felt pretty familiar. Obviously there’s a lot of outside attention, but once I put the helmet on and got in the car, it all felt in a way like I never really left.

“Obviously this morning we didn’t really get anything, but this afternoon I think just a little bit on the new tyre [to learn] but nothing really I’m concerned about.”

Heading into Saturday, Ricciardo says that he feels positive about AlphaTauri’s prospects for qualifying around the Hungaroring.

“For sure there’s some things already I feel in the car we can try and work on. Right now I’m quite optimistic, it looked like Yuki as well had a pretty good day. So I think if we put all these things together, maybe tomorrow we can do okay.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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16 comments on “Ricciardo “at 95%” after ending Friday 10 places behind Tsunoda”

  1. “I felt comfortably quite quickly today,” Ricciardo said. “But ‘comfortable’ is 95 percent.

    I do hope he isn’t referring to the local existing ‘gold standard’ known as Tsunoda.
    He needs to be quite a bit faster than that to justify the seat.

    1. Beating Tsunoda regularly would justify the seat given the terrible car (something his predecessor failed).

      Assuming he can do it, which is nowhere certain especially with FP so far.

      1. Good point: he can stay in f1 (and in alpha) if he outperforms tsunoda, but he has to be quite a bit better to go to red bull.

    2. It’s literally the first time he’s ever driven the car. Not sure what absurd expectations you and many others have.

      1. Exactly, regardless of his decade of F1 experience – there’s still nuances to each car that take some time to learn.

        Just like hyping him up beforehand was silly, so is judging Ricciardo after not even two effective hours of free practise.

      2. It’s literally the first time he’s ever driven the car. Not sure what absurd expectations you and many others have.

        It was apparently the first 4 laps in the Red Bull that had him on the “put him in a race seat” list and by his 11th lap Marko was showing de Vries the exit.
        So, I fully expect Marko to treat Daniel with his usual level of tact, empathy, and consideration – i.e. not a lot.
        As such, he needs to be beating Tsunoda just before or just after the summer break.

      3. A clear dominance over Tsunoda, instantly. Not kidding…, Max won his first race in a RedBull. So he is already given a break by just needing to be quicker than Tsunoda. He is a multiple race winner.

        1. *Max was gifted a win in his first race in a Red Bull

          1. In hindsight, he had the better strategy (2 stops vs. 3 stops for Ricciardo, who led much of the race), and the benefit of a car well suited to the final chicane which made overtaking it, even with DRS, close to impossible. But he still made it work.

  2. Yuki has, IMO, driven quite well this season. I don’t think he’ll ever be a top driver cause of his natural character and his seeming lack of extra capacity in the car. However, I think it’s disingenuous to pretend he’s slow and that DR should immediately be beating him. He was fast enough to end Nyck’s career quite quickly.

  3. One final point, Tsunoda’s experience in the car was obvious from how he approached turn 2. He was taking a radically tighter line compared to any other driver in the field. He was intentionally hitting the curb to unsettle the car to enable it to rotate better. OTH, Daniel was taking a much more traditional, wider line. That’s an example of the benefit of having multiple seasons in the car to learn to mitigate the shortcomings of the car.

    1. Indeed, probably something russell had to deal with in williams as well, which then, when he ended up in a relatively bad mercedes, made him perform better than hamilton immediately, who was not used to the shortcomings of a bad car, unlike russell.

  4. RIC is now the second driver in the Sky intro sequence. Way ahead of Tsunoda.

    It’s crazy how we are locked into the story of a journeyman trying to prove himself in the worst car in the grid—and somehow from
    that platform get into the fastest car in the grid. That’s how few stories we have this season, now that the upgrades from AM, Mercedes, and Ferrari fizzled out and we know that the RB19 and Verstappen have no weaknesses.

    1. Calling Ricciardo a journeyman driver is just as disingenuous as expecting him to be great right off the bat. Ricciardo effectively drove for three teams. Getting massive pay raises every time. Is that what happens with journeyman drivers?

      It’s OK to dislike the man or any driver for that matter, but not to try and blatantly mis-characterize someone’s career.

      There’s a reason the media is excited and it’s not because the guy was a subpar, journeyman driver prior to his embarrassing McLaren implosion.

    2. If you’re referring to the F1 driver intro, Max is last. It does go in order of best to worst.

      1. If you’re referring to the F1 driver intro, Max is last. It does go in order of best to worst.

        I’m no Max fan, but I wouldn’t say that.

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