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daniel ricciardo alphatauri f1 hungarian gp

Ricciardo: Simplifying everything felt really nice

daniel ricciardo alphatauri f1 hungarian gp

While not up at the sharp end of proceedings in qualifying for the 2023 Hungarian Grand Prix, comeback kid Daniel Ricciardo had the best session he could’ve hoped for in his return to the Formula 1 grid after ten races since he last raced.

The story of Ricciardo’s downfall at McLaren and subsequent saving by his original F1 backers, Red Bull, is well told. The demise of hapless rookie Nyck de Vries opened the door to Ricciardo’s return, but the real prize for the Australian is the seat currently sat in by Sergio Perez, alongside Max Verstappen. The Red Bull senior team.

This weekend was the first step on that journey for Ricciardo, and he ticked the first box by beating his AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda when it matters, in this instance their first head-to-head in qualifying, and the score is RIC-1, TSU-0.

Speaking after his 232nd qualifying, his first in over six months since the Abu Dhabi GP finale last year, Ricciardo summed up his qualy session: “The result is not everything but it was just so important for me coming back and feeling comfortable. Just getting that enjoyment back. I felt that last week in the test, it was a bit of a relief.

“It just felt fun again and that’s what I was looking for coming here. It was cool again. Getting in the car in Qualifying, I was relaxed but knowing you are going to push the car to the limit on low fuel. Simplifying everything felt really nice,” explained Ricciardo. He will start from 13th on the grid.

As for points in his comeback race on Sunday, Ricciardo said: “It’s hard for me to say. I’ve done like an eight-lap long run so I don’t know enough about this car and fuel as the tyres get old. That’s where I’m probably going to discover more things with the car.

“In those conditions, it always feels tricker. There’s probably more for me to learn and process. Points would be phenomenal but for now, logging the laps and learning as I go. I don’t expect the racing to feel too foreign, I only took half a year off, so tomorrow will be fun, and of course, if there are gaps, I’ll see what the car can do,” added Ricciardo.

Tsunoda: It’s tough and I’m disappointed

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As much as the newcomer to the team needs to perform and beat his teammate, so does Tsunoda. Today he did not. With the margins in F1 finer than ever before, about a second covered the entire field in Q1, from P1 to P20. The Japanese driver was only good for P17 and a Q1 exit.

A couple of hundredths of a second the difference between him and the other AlphaTauri. Tsunoda said in the AlphaTauri report: “Today was difficult. Being knocked out of Q1 isn’t great; it’s tough and I’m disappointed. I couldn’t improve and missed out on Q2, not finishing in the position I wanted to, and it’s a shame.

“The pace was there, and I feel we have made a step forward with the new rear wing, I just couldn’t put it together and maximise my performance. It’s good learning for the future, but I’m very frustrated I lost the opportunity to maximise my pace.

“The different tyre allocation we had for qualifying this week was fun yet challenging because it made the practice sessions more difficult, but it doesn’t affect the race tomorrow. From what we saw in practice, the race pace seems ok, so hopefully, I can maximise on that and gain as many positions as possible,” concluded Tsunoda.

Chief Engineer Claudio Balestri added: “Today we were simply not fast enough to enter Q3. We now shift our attention to preparing for the race, which will not be an easy one. We will do our best to get back into the points.”