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Ricciardo was ‘subdued’ and ‘hollow’ upon his return to F1, says former Red Bull race engineer

Daniel Riccardo was described as ‘hollow’ on his return to F1 by former race engineer Simon Rennie

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Daniel Ricciardo’s former race engineer, Simon Rennie, was “unsure” whether Ricciardo could compete in F1 after having a break from the sport. Rennie was also worried the Australian had lost “confidence” behind the wheel.

Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo on track at Spa as part of his return to F1 with AlphaTauri (Credit: X @AlphaTauriF1)

The former Red Bull driver was dropped by McLaren at the end of the 2022 season. McLaren opted to go for Oscar Piastri for 2023, meaning Ricciardo was out of F1. However, after taking half a season away, he was called back up.

Ricciardo replaced Nyck de Vries after a series of poor results from the Dutch driver. Speaking on the Talking Bull podcast, the Australian described his first few days back in the office.

Ricciardo said: “The first thing I did in 2023 was a couple sim sessions.

“And that was, for sure, just for me to get back in the groove, to learn the car, but just kind of get back into my flow.”

However, the current group leader of simulation engineering at Red Bull, Simon Rennie, expressed some worry. Rennie spoke about how he was worried Ricciardo may have underestimated how difficult it was to get back racing again. He also described how Ricciardo’s “confidence” was not what it had been.

“I don’t think that was as easy as you thought it was going to be,” Rennie explained.

“When he first came back, I was quite surprised. Knowing Daniel, when he came back – I didn’t say this at the time – that he was almost like, you’re definitely not as confident as I know you are, and you were just a little bit hollow in a way.

“It felt like you were doubting yourself a little, and you were. You were a bit concerned about whether you could do it again, because obviously you’d had good success with us, and you’ve had the last couple years haven’t been quite successful.”

How quick was Ricciardo’s return?

The former HRT racing driver suffered a crash on his third weekend upon his return to F1. Ricciardo crashed in FP2 at Zandvoort, having to avoid the car of fellow Australian, Oscar Piastri. However, upon impact with the wall, Ricciardo shattered a bone in his left hand, this saw Liam Lawson replace him in the Alpha Tauri for the foreseeable future.

Ricciardo
Daniel Ricciardo after crashing during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of The Netherlands at Circuit Zandvoort. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

The quick return Ricciardo had made to F1 was halted by the incident. However, Rennie has also been quick to explain how he was concerned that it did not “click straight away” for the Perth-born driver. On the podcast, Rennie said:

“And it didn’t necessarily click straightaway in the simulator.

“It took you that first day that we did together – I don’t know if you left with a good feeling or not after that first day you still seemed a little bit unsure of it all.

“And then you went away, had a bit of time off at home, and then next time you’re in, it’s like you were a bit more bouncy.

“Maybe you had more time to think about it – you were a bit more like, say, halfway back to being yourself.

“Then we had a good day in the simulator and I think you just drove it naturally, like you wanted to do, and it just sort of clicked a little bit.

“The confidence from then snowballed and you built, and built, and built, and then by the end of that day, or the next day, you felt like, ‘yeah, he’s back again’.

“But it was really mad; the first time we saw him again, you were a bit subdued. It’s nice to see him back.”

So far in his return, Ricciardo has finished P13 and P16. With his injury, he will be missing a few races. His return is expected to be Qatar at the beginning of October.

Headline Image: GettyImages

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