Monday, June 24, 2024

Ricciardo Going into Formula 1 Return Weekend ‘without too many preconceived ideas’ about AT04       

Daniel Ricciardo returns to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship this weekend with Scuderia AlphaTauri, with the Australian ready for his first race since the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the end of the 2022 season.

Ricciardo was drafted in after the British Grand Prix after Nyck de Vries was sacked, the Dutchman paying for a poor start to the season that saw him fail to score points in any of the first ten races of the season with his seat.

He was given a triumphant welcome back to the Faenza factory last week, and he cannot wait to get started this weekend at the Hungaroring.

“I’m stoked to be back,” said Ricciardo. “As always with the Red Bull family, you have to be ready for a call and when it came I jumped at the opportunity.

“The transition to AlphaTauri has gone smoothly. Last week, I was back in Faenza, the factory has changed a lot since I last raced for the team a decade ago, but there were still plenty of familiar faces and I felt at home as we prepare for the upcoming race.”

Ricciardo was participating in a tyre test with Oracle Red Bull Racing at Silverstone last week when he was given the nod to replace de Vries, but it won’t be until practice in Hungary that he will get his first taste of the AT04.

The eight-time race winner wants to help the team improve the performance of the car and help them improve their position in the Constructors’ Championship, but most of all he wants to enjoy himself behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car.

“When I drove the Red Bull in the tyre test at Silverstone last week it all felt very normal,” said the Australian.  “The AlphaTauri car will be what it is. I’m going to drive it and work from there.

“I don’t want to have too many preconceived ideas about it. I think if it’s a car that feels balanced, that’s something I can work with. It’s going to be a challenge, to jump in and just hit the ground running, but I’m excited about it.

“I’m looking forward to also developing the car and using my experience, and ultimately, I think, for Budapest, just go out and have fun, try and use more right foot than left and have a good time! The key to this track is getting into a rhythm – you put so many corners together – and if the car is balanced, you can really have some fun.”

“I think I’ll benefit from having a very good, experienced driver as a team-mate” – Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda is excited to work alongside Ricciardo at AlphaTauri, and he believes he will benefit from the Australian’s experience in order to improve his own driving.

Ricciardo will be Tsunoda’s third team-mate in Formula 1 after Pierre Gasly and de Vries, and he is looking to combine with the Australian to help AlphaTauri make development gains and improve their position in the championship.

“I’m looking forward to working with Daniel,” said Tsunoda.  “I can’t say I know him very well, but we had a fun day filming together earlier this year in Miami.

“I think I’ll benefit from having a very good, experienced driver as a team-mate. I’m sure I can learn lots of things from him and I also expect he will be able to bring something to the team and move the car development forward.”

Tsunoda also praised the work of the outgoing de Vries, saying he enjoyed his time competing against the Dutchman and learned some things from him as well.

“I would also like to say that I had an enjoyable time over the past ten races with Nyck,” the Japanese driver added.  “I learned from him, and we also had a good time away from the track.

“He had plenty of experience in other categories and gave the team good feedback based on his knowledge. He had the pace and, as a friend, I enjoyed my time with him.”

AlphaTauri will bring more updates to the Hungaroring this weekend, and Tsunoda feels the slow nature of the track should suit the characteristics of the AT04 than Silverstone did two weeks ago. 

And after finishing sixth at the track back in 2021, he is optimistic of bringing home what would be only the third top ten finish of the season for the team on Sunday.

“For this weekend, we have more upgrades for the race in Hungary, on top of those we brought to the last race,” Tsunoda added.  “Budapest has completely different track characteristics compared to the past two races, and its slow-speed corners should suit our car better than the high-speed ones.

“I like the track, it’s technical and challenging, and good fun. I have nice memories from my first F1 race there in 2021 as it was very chaotic and I finished sixth, after starting sixteenth!

“I’m optimistic, I always treat every race as a new opportunity where anything can happen. As a team, we’re very motivated to go forward and develop the car as much as possible.

“In my mind, I’ve had a complete reset from the last few races, especially Silverstone, and I’m in a positive frame of mind.”

Yuki Tsunoda has fond memories of the Hungaroring – Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images