Daniel Ricciardo has offered an insight into his private Silverstone test in the RB19 that led to his return to the F1 grid. The 34-year-old impressed Helmut Marko so much during his stints that the Austrian immediately made the call to axe Nyck de Vries and put the Aussie in the second AlphaTauri car for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ricciardo had been absent from the F1 grid for over half a year following his premature departure from McLaren at the end of the 2022 campaign, although the popular Aussie has praised his time off as vital to standing him in good stead for his comeback with AlphaTauri.
“So I did the test and, on the first run, I actually spun twice,” Ricciardo explained on the Beyond The Grid podcast. “In Turn 4, I had a spin. So a very low-speed spin, just a little bit eager on the throttle. Then I had a spin in Turn 7, I think, so another slow speed [corner] again, I did a tiny little loop and got it going. It wasn’t like I was in the gravel or anything.
“But even that, I spun but I was OK with it. I wasn’t like ‘Oh man, what are you doing?’ Like I didn’t get in my head. I was just like, ‘Oh well, it makes sense, I haven’t driven in seven, eight, nine months’, whatever it was.
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“So, even the way I brushed it off, I think it was really good for me because it didn’t faze me. So then I got back going and I started to put in some good times. Also, the very, very first time I went through Turn 1 flat, I thought my helmet was going to fly off my head, you forget how intense it is on your body, and how fast these cars are.
“That was also really cool to feel it again because it made me really respect it. Yeah, so I did the first run with those couple of spins and came back in, I did maybe eight laps or something, maybe 10.
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“So we put some new tyres on. We put FP2 fuel [levels] in the car. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it. The first timed lap I did was on the money. Take the fuel out to put it to quali fuel and it was a few hundredths off Max’s pole time.”
AlphaTauri reaped the rewards of making the change and reintroducing Ricciardo into F1. He contributed six points as AlphaTauri scored in four of the final five Grands Prix of the season, climbing above Alfa Romeo and Haas in the Constructors’ Championship standings.
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