Red Bull team principal Christian Horner lavished praise on Daniel Ricciardo after he delivered AlphaTauri’s best result of the season so far in Mexico.Nyck de Vries, but missed five rounds after he was injured in practice at Zandvoort.
Last Sunday’s race was disrupted by a red flag shortly before half-distance which came while Ricciardo was running fifth. The interruption helped George Russell and Lando Norris gain on the AlphaTauri driver. Both ultimately finished ahead of him, though Ricciardo was hounding Russell for sixth place as the race ended and the Mercedes driver doubted he could have kept his rival behind for another lap.
Horner said Ricciardo’s performance showed why Red Bull had been keen to get him back in a racing seat as soon as possible following his ousting from McLaren at the end of last year.
“It was great to see Daniel performing so well and fully endorse the reason why we brought him back into AlphaTauri just prior to the summer break,” he said. “I thought he was outstanding this weekend, fighting a Mercedes in a AlphaTauri.
“Had it not been for the red flag, he would have probably finished yet further up. So a great performance from him and he certainly looked like the Daniel of old this weekend.”
Ricciardo’s qualifying performance drew comment as he lined up ahead of Sergio Perez, whose seat he has been tipped to take. “Look at the delta to Max, though,” noted Horner, “it was less than a tenth I think, so a remarkable performance by him.”
On his return from injury in Austin, Ricciardo finished last of the runners as he collected car damage in the race, while team mate Yuki Tsunoda took eighth. Horner said Ricciardo looked “back to his old self” in Mexico.
“You can see he’s relaxed, he’s confident and I thought this weekend he came into the weekend fully motivated after a tricky Austin, coming back from injury, I thought he did a did a great job this weekend.”
Bringing Ricciardo to AlphaTauri’s line-up has added much-needed experience to the team, said Horner. Red Bull’s secondary F1 team began the season with de Vries, who had a single start to his name from 2022, and Tsunoda, who entered his third campaign this year.
“I think he just brings them a bunch of experience,” said Horner. “They had two inexperienced drivers in the car and I think he’s just put a bit of direction into their engineering and I think they’re benefiting from that.”
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2023 Mexican Grand Prix
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