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Formula 1 Hungarian GP

Ricciardo “felt like myself again” in F1 qualifying comeback

Daniel Ricciardo says he felt “like myself again” after taking part in his first Formula 1 qualifying session since last November’s Abu Dhabi GP on Saturday in Hungary.

Daniel Ricciardo, Scuderia AlphaTauri

Ricciardo qualified 13th in Budapest for AlphaTauri, with his team-mate and main reference Yuki Tsunoda failing to make it out of Q1 in 17th place.

The Australian admitted that returning to the cockpit had been a challenge, but he felt “relaxed” and “happy” doing it.

“Of course coming into the weekend I knew there would be a bit of a hill to climb,” he said. “And I was trying not to get caught up on how I go this weekend.

“But of course, I'm a race car driver, so I'm always going to expect something out of myself. But truthfully, I was really trying to remove as much as that as I could and just make sure that this is the place that makes me feel like myself again.

“And, you know, jumping in the car and qualifying, I felt actually really relaxed and just, not to take it lightly, but just happy to be back and happy to be able to push a car on the limit again.

“This is something that I obviously didn't always have in the last year or two. That's why I think the time off was needed for me.

“I thought I was going get 12 months. In the end, it was only about six or seven, whatever, but fortunately it was enough. You know, I felt like I had enough time to, let's say, fall back in love.”

Ricciardo stressed that his priority in Sunday’s race is to learn about the car for both himself and the team.

“I'll get a little more jacked up tomorrow, but I think as well just be smart,” he said. “Of course I need to get into it and race and not be soft.

“But I think as well I need to ideally log the laps, and get info for the team. So obviously do that competitively, but just be smart. So we'll see what happens.”

Regarding his learning curve he added: “I think I've done probably only maybe an eight lap run or something at the moment. I think tomorrow there's going to be a lot of things for me to learn in terms of tyre management, but also the car with fuel.

“As the tyres go off, I think I'll start to probably discover a bit more about the car and obviously then in those conditions, the weaknesses.

"And so I think there'll probably be laps where I'm maybe not doing too great, but then there'll be times where I'm doing better because I'm learning as I go in a way.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

“I don't want to say that negatively, but yeah, inevitably there's going be still a handful of things to pick up on, and hopefully I can be a fast learner. And if we find our way in the points, then that would be huge.

“Obviously as a team we need to get points, but it's really just making sure that I'm on top of the car, at one with the car, and then that's let's say the first box I need to tick first.”

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He conceded that the hot weather and tight and twisty nature of the track made for a physical challenge in his first race back: “I think physically for sure I'm going to feel it more than the others. They're a little more conditioned this year, but I know that it is what it is for now.

“I feel good now, and actually I can move my neck pretty good. So I think so far so good, but 70 laps around here and in this heat, even when you are in race fitness, it's always one of the tougher ones.

“Here and Singapore, they're probably the two toughest. So that's another thing, Red Bull like challenging us, 'Yeah, Daniel just next week jump in and do it in Budapest'. But it's all good, I enjoy it.”

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