“Just try and enjoy it”: Daniel Ricciardo reveals expectations ahead of F1 return at Hungarian GP

Daniel Ricciardo has kept a positive, yet realistic, outlook as he prepares to return to the F1 grid at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The charismatic Australian has re-joined AlphaTauri, a team he drove for from 2012-2013 when called Toro Rosso. He arrives back in the paddock following the dramatic removal of Nyck de Vries from the Italian squad, a move that many have criticised as too hasty by the Red Bull management.

Nevertheless, Ricciardo’s comeback is a popular choice for many fans of the sport – and Netflix. Additionally, this stint at AlphaTauri could be a rehearsal for a seat at Red Bull in 2025.

The former McLaren and Renault driver has great pedigree in Formula 1 having won eight Grands Prix. However, his last full season – at McLaren in 2022 – saw Ricciardo’s form fall off dramatically. He finished 85 points behind teammate Lando Norris, and the British squad dropped Ricciardo to draft in compatriot Oscar Piastri.

Even with last year’s rough campaign, hype surrounding the return of Daniel Ricciardo has taken over the F1 paddock. The AlphaTauri star has now moved to tone down these expectations.

Daniel Ricciardo on F1 return: “I’m sure we’ll have work to do”

Ricciardo joins AlphaTauri as they languish at the foot of the constructors’ standings. De Vries and Yuki Tsunoda have claimed just two points all season, with the AT04 looking rather limited. The car is not quick – but Ricciardo is ready for the task.

“Firstly, I’m not worried,” he said at Thursday’s FIA press conference. “I know there will be challenges; it’s probably going to be a car that we’re going to have to work at, probably every weekend.

“But look, I don’t see the pessimistic point of view or being worried about this or that or if the car doesn’t suit me. It’s just, for me, like an opportunity now. I think the time off was really, really beneficial for me. And I’m in a place now where I’m just hungry and ready to go. And that’s really it; that’s where I’m looking at.”

The Australian also revealed what he wants to take from this weekend at the Hungaroring and the rest of the season.

“Just try and enjoy it,” he added. “I’m sure we’ll have some work to do. But I’m not going to solve every problem this weekend. So, it’s really just about getting back into the race weekend and the flow.

“Last week [at his Red Bull tyre test] of course it was a very good car I drove, but it filled me with some confidence. So [I] try to take a bit of that into this, but also not to expect the world. Just day by day.

“I’m just going to get out there, not think too much about it, drive, and then go from there.”

Tsunoda and Ricciardo: teammates and rivals for promotion?

The rest of this 2023 campaign should provide a fascinating battle at AlphaTauri. Yes, the Faenza-based outfit’s car is arguably the worst on the grid. Contrastingly, they have a very exciting driver lineup to look out for now.

Tsunoda and Ricciardo will essentially be going head-to-head to decide who might get a shot at Red Bull. It is no secret that Sergio Perez’s seat is under long-term threat, with Christian Horner saying that Ricciardo could earn a shot at it for 2025.

But what about Yuki Tsunoda? He has dragged the AT04 to a pair of points finishes in 2023, and consistently outpaced Nyck de Vries. If the Japanese ace can beat Daniel Ricciardo across the rest of this campaign, the senior team may have to seriously consider him.

For now, though, all eyes will be on Daniel Ricciardo as he makes his F1 return at the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend.

Featured image credit: Getty