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Formula 1 Belgian GP

Ricciardo “glad” of comeback timing to optimise F1 summer break

Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that he’s “glad” he got two Formula 1 races in for AlphaTauri before the summer break, despite the short notice of his move.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

A few weeks ago Ricciardo was first touted as a possible post-shutdown replacement for Nyck de Vries at the Faenza team, with the Dutchman expected to have a last chance to prove himself with the run of European races up to Spa.

But de Vries was dropped after the British Grand Prix, and Ricciardo was fast-tracked into the seat for Hungary and Belgium, with limited time to prepare.

While the timing wasn’t ideal, Ricciardo believes that those races provided him a launchpad ahead of the second half of the season.

PLUS: The times that show how good Ricciardo's F1 return really was

“When I got the call up, in my head I was like, ‘Oh, okay, I thought we'd probably just wait for the summer break,” said the Australian.

“But I'm actually really glad I got these two before the break, because it gives me something to certainly think about, build on, throw some questions back to the team.

“I feel like we're going to get to Zandvoort being much better prepared than if Zandvoort was my first race, and I think it kind of springboards us a bit better into the second half of the season.

“Obviously, I know when my fitness is at, so I can work during the summer break now. While everyone's sipping Pina Coladas, I'll be in the gym.”

Ricciardo said he felt better than expected after his comeback race in Hungary, where the hot conditions and twisty nature of the track made for a physical challenge. Nevertheless, he admits that he still has work to do.

“I'm going to use this time to play catch up, in terms of from a physical standpoint,” he said when asked by Autosport what he could achieve during the break.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Erik Junius

“Obviously my race fitness is not what all the other drivers is.

“But probably the one thing I was happiest about certainly was how I felt after the [Hungarian] race, I actually felt a lot better than I thought I was going feel.

“Of course, I can always be better. So when shutdown is on I'm going to use that just to train and, of course, try and enjoy a little bit of a holiday. But I've had a holiday for six months!

“I'll just use that to train, because Zandvoort is very physical as well. It's very hard on the neck, that one, it's fast and whatever. So just make sure I'm doing that.

“If I'm physically in shape, then I think mentally and everything it feels easier coming into a weekend, like there's less questions to be answered.”

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After finishing 16th in the Spa race, Ricciardo admitted that he couldn’t expect everything to come together quickly even after a relatively short spell out of the cockpit.

“Nine days ago, I hadn't driven this car,” he said.

“So when I put everything into perspective, I think we're okay. And from what I understand, I think the few laps we got towards the end in clear air we actually were on a decent pace.

“So it's probably not all that bad. But now that I'm back in sport, I've got a taste, I want to make sure that I'm kicking ass.”

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