Daniel Ricciardo claims rival hit prevented points-scoring finish on F1 return

Daniel Ricciardo feels that if he had not have received a hit from Zhou Guanyu at the Hungarian GP start, then a top 10 finish was on.

The Aussie was subject to a great deal of attention as he made his return to the Formula 1 grid in Hungary, having been drafted in at Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri for the remainder of the F1 2023 campaign, taking the seat formerly belonging to Nyck de Vries.

And Ricciardo delivered on the first aim for the race weekend as he outqualified team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, securing the P13 grid slot.

Zhou Guanyu wipes out Daniel Ricciardo top 10 hopes

Ricciardo’s race though unravelled at the start as Zhou in the Alfa Romeo, looking to recover from an awful start from P5, would tag the back of Ricciardo’s AlphaTauri as he went too late on the brakes, triggering a shunt which would also result in a double DNF for the Alpine team.

Ricciardo was able to recover to finish where he started in P13, but without that incident at the start, he would have fancied his chances of scoring some points.

“If we stayed ahead and held position at the start I believe we could have really fought for a points finish today,” he told reporters after the race.

The fact Ricciardo was able to deliver a decent recovery drive suggested that his AlphaTauri AT04 escaped serious damage in the shunt, and after giving the car a quick inspection after the race, he confirmed that there was just some damage to the diffuser from what he could see.

The Aussie wished he could claim that was costing him a second in performance, but knew he would not get away with that one.

He is after all at the wheel of arguably the slowest challenger on the grid as AlphaTauri languish at the bottom of the Constructors’ standings.

“I had a look at the end. There was a little bit of damage on the back of the diffuser, but the team said it was pretty much okay,” Ricciardo revealed.

“I’d love to say I could have gone a second quicker but I think the car was more or less fine!”

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So, it may not have been a points-scoring return to Formula 1 for Ricciardo, but he does reflect on his Hungarian GP outing as a great learning experience at the wheel of the AT04.

And importantly, he felt great physically back out there in the thick of the action, rather than watching from the TV screens as he had been doing as Red Bull’s reserve driver.

“Still a lot of questions to be answered so having the pace, having the clear air and making a few mistakes, leaning from those, learning what the car likes, what it doesn’t. I learnt a lot from the race,” he said.

“Honestly just coming into it physically, not doing a race distance in eight months… Especially round here it’s actually one of the tougher ones. That’s one of the biggest smiles I have right now, it felt pretty good out there.”

Ricciardo will not need to wait long though before his next opportunity to return to the points arrives, with the Belgian Grand Prix on the way next weekend.

Read next: Christian Horner teases Nico Rosberg after ‘statement drive’ from Sergio Perez

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