Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023

Time spent out of F1 made Ricciardo realise he was “doing too much sometimes”

Formula 1

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The moment that stands out most for Daniel Ricciardo from his return to Formula 1 this year was when he got “some metal in my hand” after breaking a bone when he crashed in practice for the Dutch Grand Prix.

But most of his other memories of his seven-and-a-half weekends at AlphaTauri are more positive. Ricciardo was called up in mid-season to replace the underperforming Nyck de Vries, only to need a substitute of his own after injuring himself.

The crash aside, Ricciardo said his comeback was a happy one on the whole, after he ended 2022 lacking confidence (and a seat) after a trying season with McLaren.

“When I look back on this year it’s a year I never would have expected in so many ways,” he said. “I didn’t expect to be racing at all, let alone going through everything else.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Zandvoort, 2023
Zandvoort crash put Ricciardo on the sidelines again
“So it’s something that I’m definitely happy about, the place I am and what I feel inside my heart. Ultimately, I’m really in a happy place and I’m happy being here racing again.”

His disrupted return meant he went into the winter break eager to carry on racing. “It’s probably the first off-season that I would not really want an off-season,” he admitted. “I want to keep racing and keep a bit of the flow going, but also the thought of having a little bit of a break and getting myself prepared for next year, that excites me as well.”

Ricciardo has applied maximum focus to his return, putting “all my energy into this”, rather than dovetailing F1 with extracurricular commitments as he has done in previous seasons.

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“I’ve definitely cut back on a lot of things outside of racing,” he explained. “For sure I still have some other interests outside of the sport which I’m involved in and I enjoy, but I’ve minimised a lot.”

The growing schedule – the 2024 F1 calendar features a record 24 races – means it is more important than ever to minimise distractions, he says.

“I’m really trying to make sure that – I think it always has been – but to obviously make the racing the priority. Especially with the calendar now and the schedule, if I’ve got some time off then I’m either in the gym or I’m putting my feet up and recovering for the next race.”

The time Ricciardo spent outside of competition made him realise he had taken too much on at times in the past.

“There’s so much going on and there’s so many things that you can be doing and it’s all really exciting and really fun. I love that stuff, of course, because it’s a new experience and it’s great. But having the time off at the start of the year, I realised that I was probably doing too much sometimes and probably even not prioritising myself in terms of my body and my recovery.”

That being so, he insists he would have been just as happy not to return to an F1 seat mid-season. “If I didn’t race at all this year, if I had a whole 12 months off, that would have been no problem,” said Ricciardo, “because the power of time off for me was really, really beneficial and it gave me so much.”

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“Fortunately I did find enough in those six months,” he added. There was certainly no indication he wasn’t ready to return when he did.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023
Mexican GP performance showed Ricciardo hadn’t lost his touch
“It should be the coolest thing that we do, right? But when you’ve done it your whole life and when when you’re winning it’s kind of easy, but when you’re not you go through some other challenging moments where you can become a little bit frustrated with it,” he reflected.

“Then on the competitive side, your confidence takes a hit. So then you’re asking yourself more questions and then that also makes you question the love for it. And then maybe you’re not as hungry in the other sides of the sport, in terms of preparation and that. Having the time off gave me the answer of how much I do love it, ultimately, how much it means to me.”

“It gave me a new perspective, which is really cool, and I’d recommend it to everyone,” he noted. “I can’t believe how much I’ve enjoyed this second half of the season. It’s pretty crazy what six months can do.”

Although Ricciardo wishes the injury “never happened because it was uncomfortable and painful”, now it’s behind him “I still look back on this year as a positive.”

The potential he’s showed at AlphaTauri has left Ricciardo “re-energised,” he says. “I’ve definitely got a second wind.

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“If I then speak of the hand, for this not to feel like a setback probably speaks volumes. I could see how maybe some people would see that lame accident with a high consequence like ‘maybe Daniel should just give it up, that’s probably a sign that he should just call it a day’. But I never thought that. I never felt like that. That was maybe even more power to the decision of trying to kick some butt.”

His first race back, and his best result of the season in Mexico, stand out as clear highlights from his limited 2023 campaign. He said he was “having fun” as he qualified 13th on his return at the Hungarian Grand Prix, scrubbing away reservations he had about his ability to enjoy being with a team towards the back in F1.

Then a few months later he started fourth and finished seventh in the Mexican Grand Prix. “That’s a weekend where I felt everything I needed to feel again,” he said. “And obviously the team was very happy. Everyone was happy, and those things helped everything moving forward,” said Ricciardo

“The fourth felt like a pole, because it felt like the AlphaTauri this year had no place to be on the second row of the grid. It just didn’t ever look like that, so that sort of stuff gets me excited. Definitely gets the butterflies going inside me.”

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
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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10 comments on “Time spent out of F1 made Ricciardo realise he was “doing too much sometimes””

  1. Coventry Climax
    20th December 2023, 13:32

    The moment that stands out most for Daniel Ricciardo from his return to Formula 1 this year was when he got “some metal in my hand” after breaking a bone when he crash practice for the Dutch Grand Prix.

    Might actually be a good idea, to practice crashes and learn to take your hands of the wheel before impact.
    Oh wait, that’s lesson one already, isn’t it?

    1. This has been covered fairly well. If he’d taken his hands off the wheel he would’ve crashed squarely into Piastri. Grow up. Move on.

  2. why is everyone saying “outside OF” all of a sudden?

    1. Coventry Climax
      20th December 2023, 23:50

      Maybe it’s Australian for ‘besides’ or ‘apart from’?

      1. Certainly is… Won’t find an Aussie that hasn’t been told to get out of something. Don’t know if that hails from his majesty’s realm though.

    2. @zann No idea what a “sudden” is. But should you suddenly find one please let me know.

  3. Coventry Climax
    20th December 2023, 13:42

    He’s a nice guy, and answers -verbal- questions when asked.
    Whether he’ll answer on track too?
    Somehow, I’m not really convinced yet.
    But we’ll see.

    1. I feel the same really. I am not really convinced yet that he is anywhere near back to his best. I really hope he can continue to show improvement and some good results next year. I think he’s going to need to demonstrate clear air between himself and Tsunoda though, if he hopes for a promotion.

    2. I agree, time will tell, but it is not convincing so far indeed. It’ mainly talk and big smiles.

  4. We know you’re a personality Daniel, but please just drive the car.

Comments are closed.