[Ricciardo “not scared” of AlphaTauri F1 return challenge
De Vries was ousted just 10 races into his rookie F1 season after failing to match Yuki Tsunoda, with Red Bull calling up its third driver Ricciardo to replace the Dutchman from next week’s Hungarian Grand Prix onwards.
While he has no defined expectations for his first races back at AlphaTauri, Ricciardo appreciates the big challenge he faces at the struggling outfit that is currently last in the constructors’ championship.
“I’m excited about it – it’s a challenge for sure to jump in and try to hit the ground running,” Ricciardo said in an interview on F1’s YouTube channel.
“But also, I feel like I’ve been through a lot the last few years where I’m not really scared of anything that’s going to be thrown my way.
“I appreciate the car is going to have its limitations. It might not have as much grip as the Red Bull I drove a few days ago but, if it feels relatively balanced, then that’s something I can work with.
“They expect results, performances, but I think until I get in the car, it’s hard to define what that is. Is it a P8? Is it a P14? I don’t think there’s pressure until the summer break.
“But I also don’t expect to get off to a slow start. I want to hit the ground running and try and also use what I’ve learned in this time off to put it to use.”
Nyck de Vries, AlphaTauri AT04
Photo by: Erik Junius
Ricciardo’s surprise call-up came just half a season into his sabbatical after a bruising two-year stint at McLaren. And while Helmut Marko’s phone call arrived much earlier than expected, the Australian said it came at the right time for him to have built up the desire to return.
“I didn’t really need to think much about it,” Ricciardo said. “Being back in this [Red Bull] family, I feel like I’m just going through it all again and these are the calls that I used to get.
“So, there was no question that I was going to say yes. It was just the reality of ‘OK, it’s going to happen pretty soon’.
“I’ve been part of the Red Bull family for so long. And I know that these things can happen. So even though I was for sure taking some time off this year, in the back of my mind I knew maybe I will get a call.”
But Ricciardo’s desire to make a comeback didn’t return overnight after admitting to “falling out of love” with F1 towards the end of last year.
Red Bull’s Christian Horner said earlier this year that the team almost didn’t recognise the old Ricciardo in his first sim sessions as a third driver.
Ricciardo revealed that after a few sessions he “started feeling like myself again”.
“Getting back to Red Bull and just kind of the reception I had walking back into that team was kind of – in a positive way – a little bit overwhelming,” he explained.
“Once I’d done a few sim sessions I started feeling like myself again. And that kind of brought me back to normal Daniel, where I was falling back in love and ready to go again.”
A visit to the Super Bowl and subsequent appearances at the Australian and Monaco grands prix then further rekindled the flame, with Ricciardo realising he wanted to be part of the spectacle again.
“It was probably around the time I went to Super Bowl, being in a competitive environment again, I think that was where I started to get some of those feelings back,” he added.
“And I was like, this feeling hasn’t gone yet, that I would love to just be under the lights and just compete right now. So that was certainly a moment where it all started to turn around.
“I wasn’t like foaming at the mouth back in Melbourne, but it was building.
“Monaco was where I was watching qualifying, and it was a very exciting one. And that’s where I was really starting to get like: ‘Ah, being in a car around here would be really fun.'”