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Ricciardo reveals how Alonso chat settled head over F1 break

Daniel Ricciardo has revealed that a mid-flight conversation with Fernando Alonso inspired his Formula 1 sabbatical, from which he has returned feeling "reset" and "energised again".

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri

Red Bull Content Pool

After two years of underperforming alongside Lando Norris, McLaren paid Ricciardo last season to depart a year ahead of his contract expiring to make way for 2021 Formula 2 champion Oscar Piastri.

Ricciardo opted to take time away from the spotlight, moving to Red Bull in a third driver role on a 12-month deal, and planned to wait for a 2024 race seat rather than accept a less competitive drive.

But with AlphaTauri sacking Nyck de Vries after only 10 races, Ricciardo returned to action in the Hungarian Grand Prix last weekend.

He overcame a first-corner hit from Alfa Romeo driver Zhou Guanyu and subsequent diffuser damage, then pitted for clear air to battle back to 13th place.

Ricciardo felt reinvigorated on his return but he expected as much, having been reassured about the benefits of time away during a mid-flight discussion with Alonso - who left McLaren at the end of 2018, went on to win the Le Mans 24 Hours twice, and then returned to F1 in 2021 with Alpine.

Ricciardo explained: "Even if it wasn't the year I expected, I certainly just kind of reset myself and I feel energised again.

"Actually, I remember having a conversation with Fernando maybe two years ago now. I wasn't thinking of taking a break.

"But we were just having a chat, I think on a flight somewhere, and he said the break for him was one of the best things he ever did.

"That kind of got me thinking maybe if I ever feel I need it, not to be too scared of it. Then I think, seeing the year he's had, that also filled me with some confidence."

Ricciardo had "one of the biggest smiles", having surprised himself with his physical condition after the 70-lap race following an eight-month spell on the sidelines.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Ricciardo: McLaren has broken "stalemate" to speak Norris' language

Ricciardo also reflected on the upturn of former team McLaren, which backed up its strong Silverstone showing with Norris finishing second in Budapest to Max Verstappen.

Rookie Piastri, meanwhile, persevered through being caught out by the undercut to lose track position to Norris and then floor damage to eventually take fifth place.

Ricciardo reckoned this performance showed that the MCL60 now "speaks Lando's language" after two years of trying to end the "stalemate" that ultimately cost his seat.

"I felt obviously for whatever reasons, the McLaren was normally not speaking my language," said Ricciardo.

"It certainly speaks Lando's language. He certainly knows how to get the most out of that thing.

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"I felt like obviously, especially last year, just a bit of a stalemate. It was really hard to get out of that.

"So that's why the time off and then a fresh team and environment [helped], it's just been probably the best thing for me."

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