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Ricciardo confident of avoiding "trap" that derailed McLaren F1 spell

Daniel Ricciardo is confident he will not fall into the same "trap" at AlphaTauri that doomed his recent Formula 1 spell at McLaren.

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri

Michael Potts / Motorsport Images

After losing his McLaren drive to Oscar Piastri, the Australian is making his F1 race return at this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix as a replacement for the axed Nyck de Vries.

Although he is excited about his comeback at the team he last raced for in its Toro Rosso guise in 2013, he is mindful that the AlphaTauri is the slowest car on the grid with the Faenza squad firmly at the bottom of the constructors' championship standings.

Worse is the fact that its AT04 car is known to have had a weakness throughout the season on corner entry, an area where Ricciardo particularly struggled during his two years at McLaren.

That could set up a scenario where Ricciardo finds himself battling the same issues that he came unstuck with the last time he was competing.

Asked by Autosport at the Hungaroring on Thursday if this particular aspect of the AlphaTauri car was a concern, Ricciardo felt he was in a better position to manage it than he was at McLaren.

"I think what hurt me the last couple of years was that I started probably just falling into a little bit of a trap where 'Oh, yeah, this car doesn't suit me. I need to work around this and this'," he said.

"You can probably be your own worst enemy as well. I kind of go back to my first qualifying with McLaren, I did a great quali. And that was when I kind of didn't know so much yet.

"So, I'm not really thinking too much. I know the car will have limitations and I'm sure it's not going to feel as good as the car [the Red Bull] I drove a week ago. But I'll just work with that.

"I drove it on the sim last week, and it seemed okay. I think it was a solid day on the sim. We obviously need to see if that translates but yeah, ask me tomorrow once I've driven it."

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri, with Yuki Tsunoda, Scuderia AlphaTauri

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri, with Yuki Tsunoda, Scuderia AlphaTauri

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Ricciardo said that having time out from F1 after his difficult spell at McLaren has made him better realise the mistakes he made, which should put him in better stead for the challenges at AlphaTauri.

"There's a lot I learned, and I think not only just singling out the last two years, or whatever," he explained.

"Having the last six months to actually reflect on my career, I've been able to see just see a few things that I would have done different, or where I should have probably changed that or spoke up about that."

While Ricciardo made clear when he left McLaren that he was only interested in returning to the F1 grid in competitive machinery, he says he accepted the AlphaTauri drive because he felt it was the best way of achieving his 'dream' of landing a seat back at Red Bull.

PLUS: The five challenges between Ricciardo and Perez's Red Bull F1 seat

Asked what had changed from his stance of only wanting to race top machinery, Ricciardo said: "I think a couple of things. Obviously, I had enough time off to let's say reset, but also just kind of enjoy it again. I already felt that on the simulator so far this year.

"But then also, that's why I wanted to drive the car and really make sure that it's still obviously truly what I love doing most. I was, let's say, up to speed really quick, and it felt so good again.

"I knew also, after everything that happened over the last few years and getting back into the sport, taking some time off, I knew it would be very hard to go back to the top.

"Of course, that was my wish, but I think also you need to be realistic at some point and say, 'Okay, if I want to get back to say, a Red Bull seat, then it's going to take a bit of a process and a path.' And this, for me, is the best path at the moment.

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"And also, six months ago, I probably wasn't in a place to jump at an opportunity like this. But that's been the luxury of time now, where I've fallen in love with it again.

"I feel like I've been myself again, probably back as well in an environment that just gives me a lot of nostalgia."

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