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Ricciardo reflects on tough F1 comeback in Austin

After breaking his hand two months ago, Ricciardo's return did not live up to expectation

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Daniel Ricciardo has given himself a damning verdict on his return to F1.

Daniel Ricciardo struggled for pace during his return race last weekend (Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/ Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo struggled for pace during his return race last weekend (Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/ Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ricciardo’s return to AlphaTauri had been highly anticipated since breaking his wrist in Zandvoort in July. Rumours he could lose his seat to Liam Lawson, who performed brilliantly while Ricciardo recovered, proved unfounded.

Instead, AlphaTauri confirmed Ricciardo had a full-time 2024 seat ahead of his return. Taking the pressure off somewhat, the Australian arrived in Austin relaxed, knowing his future was secure.

However, his return to F1 ended in a far-from-ideal performance. He failed to make Q3 for the sprint race or grand prix and finished outside the points in both events. He finished last in the race, a lap down.

By contrast, teammate Yuki Tsunoda enjoyed a more competitive afternoon. Initially finishing P10, he moved to P8 following the controversial disqualification of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. 

No excuses for poor performance

Speaking to motorsport.com, Ricciardo tried to find the positives in a gloomy weekend: “I actually felt probably worse [after the Saturday sprint race]… so maybe that was just a good little good warm up for me. There’s positives.”

He then delivered a scathing summary of his first weekend back since August. He said there were no excuses for race he found to be physically tough:

“The hand is no excuse. I think that was good. We did well with the timing of the return to have no hesitations or excuses.

“Physically, it’s definitely a tougher race. I still felt OK, we were just limited with damage.”

Running over debris during the race, Ricciardo confirmed this compounded a “miserable” afternoon: “Unfortunately, we picked up some damage.”I told the team that, ‘I’m sorry, guys, I got nothing right now. I really can’t do anything’. That made our race a pretty miserable one.”

“At best, we’re a top-10 car and when you put damage into it, we are certainly out of the points. Definitely most of our day today was misfortune, let’s say.”

Ricciardo expanded on where his Austin weekend fell apart. The Australian cited communication but also stated that he aims for a better performance in Mexico: “At times, we lacked communication but I think especially once I got the damage, nothing really felt that constructive to give back because we’re working with a suboptimal car.

“For sure, there’s things which I take confidence from: some race fitness, the hand, a few things, which even just getting behind the wheel in FP1 like lap one, I felt like I was able to push and lean on it.”

“There’s certainly some inner confidence in that. But I would say in race conditions, next week I’ll do better.”

Feature Image Credit: Red Bull Content Pool/Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

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