Daniel Ricciardo claims AlphaTauri ‘threw me in at the deep end’

Daniel Ricciardo is looking to stamp his authority on the Formula 1 grid after his sensational return to AlphaTauri before the summer break.

Formula 1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has shared his contentment with being swiftly reintroduced to the sport through his unexpected stint with AlphaTauri this season. 

Ricciardo, who had been serving as a reserve for Red Bull, stepped in for Nyck de Vries after the British Grand Prix.

Ricciardo, an eight-time F1 race winner, acknowledged that he initially harboured reservations about taking up the seat before the shutdown, but the experience has proven beneficial.

He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the Hungarian and Belgian Grand Prix weekends before the summer break, a deviation from the more conventional approach of waiting until the latter part of the season. 

Reflecting on this, Ricciardo stated, “Firstly, I’m definitely thankful to get the two races before the break. 

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“I think a more conventional way was to put me in for the second half of the season but having those two races and then the break to reflect on it, but also then work on some things now coming into the weekend, I think that was really beneficial.”

Elaborating on his immersion into the racing environment, Ricciardo likened the experience to being thrown into the deep end, which he believes has equipped him better for the remaining season. 

He expressed contentment with his performance, remarking, *I think when the team told me it was going to happen very soon, part of me was like… ‘ah, maybe we should wait for the break’. 

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“But personally, I’m very happy that they kind of threw me in a little bit at the deep end and I think it prepared me a lot better for the second half of the season.”

Assessing his performance in the AT04, Ricciardo praised his outings at Budapest and Spa, despite a minor qualifying misstep impacting his latter race. 

He noted his satisfaction with his efforts, stating, “But then Saturday kind of cleaned up a few things. 

“Obviously, it was its own day but I was happy with the Qualifying and the race so overall, it’s been good. 

“I’ll just keep working on it. But yeah, I feel like I’ve hit the ground running and feel content.”

Having parted ways with McLaren at the end of 2022, Ricciardo’s reentry into the sport not only saw him quickly regain his competitive form but also reignite his passion for racing. 

He emphasised his personal growth and reflection during the six months off, which contributed to his positive outlook and performance. 

He mentioned, “Obviously I’ve only had the two races but those two races, not only on track but I think off track and the way the weekend ran and how I felt on a personal level, was exactly what I wanted and the level of happiness and enjoyment and drive and motivation.”

Ricciardo also touched upon his future ambitions, including his desire to secure a spot alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2025. 

However, he emphasised a shift in his mindset, prioritising a balanced approach and avoiding unnecessary pressure. 

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He remarked, “But I think as well, this kind of second chapter of my career, I am feeling just different about things and I feel like at least right now where my head’s at, I’m in a very good place and taking it seriously. 

“Not, obviously, putting unnecessary pressure on myself or anything, but just have some goals to achieve and some things to chase. 

“So that’s where I’m at.”