Franz Tost expecting to see ‘old Daniel Ricciardo’ soon – and he may already be here

Oliver Harden
AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo

AlphaTauri driver Daniel Ricciardo speaks to the media at the 2023 Mexican Grand Prix.

AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost is expecting Daniel Ricciardo to be back to his best from next weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix – but suspects he may already be close to his old self in Mexico.

Ricciardo enjoyed an encouraging Friday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, claiming eighth place in FP1 before rising to sixth in the afternoon session.

The Australian’s apparent breakthrough came after a stuttered start to his F1 return, with Ricciardo absent for five races after sustaining a broken hand in a practice crash at August’s Dutch GP.

Daniel Ricciardo tipped to be back to his best in Brazil

He returned to the cockpit in Austin last weekend, qualifying three tenths slower than team-mate Yuki Tsunoda and being the last of the classified finishers in 15th.

The 34-year-old has made no secret of his desire to return to the main Red Bull team, with whom he won seven races in a productive spell between 2014 and 2018, in the near future.

And Tost believes Ricciardo’s performances are about to improve significantly as he gets back up to speed.

He said: “He’s still in the period to speed up everything. Because if you’re out Formula 1, and if you were injured, it takes time.

“And I said to Daniel from the beginning onwards, when he came to Austin, that Austin will become a difficult race, don’t care about this, just get used to the car get familiar with everything. Mexico will be a similar challenge.

“I expect you will see the old Daniel, whom we know who can win races, in Sao Paulo, but it looks like that he is already here, on this level.”

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Speaking ahead of this race, Ricciardo insisted that his injury no longer troubles him after participating in a complete grand prix weekend for this first time since July in Austin.

He told media: “There were no excuses last weekend, but before this weekend it’s not even an issue anymore. Of course, the team asked me last week if everything was OK and, of course, I said yes. And it was, but now they don’t ask me at all.”

Ricciardo is set to carry the bulk of AlphaTauri’s hopes this weekend, with Tsunoda set to start from the back of the grid with an engine penalty.

The Japanese driver has breached the engine component allocation for the season by taking an entirely fresh power unit, as well as a new gearbox, for this race.

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