Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has hailed Daniel Ricciardo’s “very solid and mature” performance in his first F1 qualifying session back with AlphaTauri at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Having been signed as Nyck de Vries’ replacement for the rest of the season, Ricciardo shone in his first qualifying session since his final event as a McLaren driver in Abu Dhabi 2022.
While team-mate Yuki Tsunoda could only manage 17th, the Australian will start Sunday’s race from 13th having outpaced Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin and Pierre Gasly’s Alpine in Q2.
Red Bull boss impressed by Daniel Ricciardo comeback showing
Ricciardo’s return to F1 with AlphaTauri has been viewed as an audition for a potential future Red Bull drive in light of the struggles of Sergio Perez alongside World Champion Max Verstappen.
And, speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the session, Horner was complimentary of Ricciardo’s performance – and offered an insight into what it takes to get the best from the 34-year-old, who recently represented Red Bull in a Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone.
He said: “He’s done a great job, getting into what is the team that’s 10th in the Championship at the moment.
“I think, getting into a very foreign environment [after] seven months out of the seat, I thought that was a very solid, mature performance from him today today.
“I think the team will really benefit from his experience and knowledge. You can see he’s enjoying it, which is the most important thing, because if Daniel is enjoying driving, you’re going to get more from him.”
Ricciardo was thrilled with how his session unfolded and claimed the process gave him more satisafaction than the end result.
Asked to rate his session out of 10, he joked: “34,769. It’s pretty high. I’ll say the result is a part of that, but it’s certainly not everything.
“I think it was just so important for me coming back and feeling comfortable as soon as possible, but just getting that enjoyment back – I think I felt that last week in the test. It was a bit of a relief and it was so [it] just felt fun again.
“That was really what I was looking for coming back here. It was pretty short notice, but I just felt like it was cool again. Getting in the car in qualifying I was quite relaxed, but knowing that you’re about to go and push the car to the limit on low fuel, just kind of simplifying everything, felt really nice.”
Asked how he slept ahead of his big return, Ricciardo explained that he took inspiration from the NFL-based Netflix series Quarterback on Friday night in Budapest.
“Pretty good,” he said. “I fell asleep actually pretty well.
“I’m watching Quarterback at the moment – it’s really good – [and] I probably watched one episode too much, so I probably should have gone to bed a little earlier. But I slept pretty good.
“I like that stuff, because watching that as well it kind of made me feel ready to go, so it’s good.”