Ricciardo’s time away will have helped him “get rid of the demons” – Albon

2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Williams driver Alexander Albon believes having half a year off from racing will have helped Daniel Ricciardo to “reset” as a driver.

The 34-year-old has returned to the grid this weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix, replacing Nyck de Vries at AlphaTauri.

Ricciardo had been out of a drive since McLaren dropped him at the end of last season, cutting his contract short by a year following two seasons of largely disappointing performances. Albon, who spent a year off the grid in 2021 after being dropped by Red Bull, said Ricciardo’s time away from the grid would likely have helped his driving “in some ways” ahead of his return.

“I had a year out, he’s had a little bit less, but I really do think that year helped me,” explained Albon, who made his F1 debut for AlphaTauri in 2019 when it was known as Toro Rosso.

Ricciardo is adjusting to life at AlphaTauri
“When you’re in the circus and when things aren’t going well and you’re just going race-to-race-to-race, you’re not really able to reflect and to understand really what’s going on. You just feel like you’re in the washing machine, a little bit.

“Having that time, it’s important to be able to reflect and to improve, but it’s also just purely good in a sense where you get time away and you can fully reset mentally. Because the reset’s very important. You start to lose a bit of confidence.”

Albon spent 2021 as a test and reserve driver for Red Bull but also raced in the DTM, Germany’s top touring car series, where he won a race at the Nurburgring. Racing something other than an F1 car was very helpful to gaining back confidence as a driver, Albon said.

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“Having time away, I think, gets rid of the demons in some respects,” he explained.

A successful spell in the DTM led to Albon’s F1 return
“I valued my time in DTM, because it was actually driving something a little bit different, but it gave me confidence in a different kind of way. I was still driving a racing car, so you still needed to be confident and driving that car kind of did that to me.

“It felt like when I came back into my first winter test back in the Williams car I started more confident than I left, if that makes sense. Just seeing Daniel and seeing the buzz he has, I think that’s happened to him as well.”

Albon said he sympathised with de Vries and echoed sentiments of many of his fellow drivers that the rookie had been dropped prematurely.

“I know Nyck well. I think he’s a very good driver,” he said. “Of course, 10 races is still an early moment to do it. I would have expected at least until the summer break, but, I don’t know the reasons.”

With Ricciardo driving the AlphaTauri AT04 for the first time at the Hungaroring, Albon believes he will quickly realise whether he is likely to feel comfortable with his new car over the second half of the season.

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“I personally think it’s all about, does it feel intuitive to drive straight away? Does it feel like it makes sense early?” Albon explained.

Report: Ricciardo “at 95%” after ending Friday 10 places behind Tsunoda
“When I think about my time at Red Bull and Toro Rosso, I think at Toro Rosso I felt more comfortable with the car straight away so I could extract the performance quite quickly. I think my first race weekend I out-qualified my team mate and it felt like it was a springboard into a good start to the year.

“But likewise, I think my time at Red Bull and his time at McLaren, when things take a bit of time to get your head around, that’s when it gets tricky.”

Albon expects Ricciardo, who has experience of starting over 200 grands prix, will regain his confidence quickly if he finds the car is to his liking.

“I think Daniel, if he feels comfortable, he’ll just hit the ground running quite quickly and he’ll get on with it. My experience of that is kind of within the first two laps, you know if you’re going to find this quite easy to get up to speed with or not.”

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2023 Hungarian Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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1 comments on “Ricciardo’s time away will have helped him “get rid of the demons” – Albon”

  1. Prashanth Ramadas
    23rd July 2023, 0:08

    Aston Martin is a very good team. The thing is they never dominated earlier.

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