Questions raised after Daniel Ricciardo’s ‘revitalised’ performance in Mexico

Thomas Maher
Daniel Ricciardo raced to seventh place, his and the AlphaTauri team's best result of the year, at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo raced to seventh place, his and the AlphaTauri team's best result of the year, at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo’s seventh-place finish in Mexico was his best since the same event in 2022, and moved AlphaTauri into eighth place overall.

Having returned from injury at last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, following on from his two races with the Red Bull sister team earlier in the summer, Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed a tremendous weekend as he qualified fourth for the Mexican Grand Prix.

On race day, the Australian raced to seventh place to secure AlphaTauri’s best result of the year to move the Italian squad to a total of 16 points and into eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship.

Jolyon Palmer questions Daniel Ricciardo form in Mexico

While Ricciardo had a tremendous weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, former Renault F1 driver turned F1 pundit Jolyon Palmer pointed out that Ricciardo also had a very strong race in Mexico last year during his final days at McLaren.

The British broadcaster believes a larger sample size than one race will be needed to assess Ricciardo’s overall form.

“He seemed revitalised this weekend, finished seventh, was very close to sixth, and scored some good points for AlphaTauri,” he said on the Chequered Flag podcast.

“That’s their best result of the season as well. They jumped Haas, and they actually jumped Alfa Romeo as well by virtue of Ricciardo’s seventh place, so it’s actually momentous for the team.

“That won’t be lost on their employers [Red Bull] either.

“But for Ricciardo, he’s always been good in Mexico. It was his best race last year as well, for McLaren. He was ahead of [Lando] Norris in the race then.

“So you wonder if there’s a little bit of that. His qualifying was sensational. His race was very solid.

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“The first thing is he’s got to keep it going – this sort of form – for three more races, because we haven’t really seen anything like this since he’s been in that AlphaTauri.

“He’s had a few races so far. I know he’s been away for a few as well, but this was a marked improvement.

“The second caveat was what [Yuki] Tsunoda could have done this weekend, had he not been forced to start from the back, because he was on a different run plan from the word go. He didn’t even sit in the car in FP1, so Ricciardo had the upper hand on his teammate the whole way through.

“Tsunoda never tried to qualify properly when Ricciardo was fourth, and Yuki was having a really strong race as well. Tsunoda was trying to pass [Oscar] Piastri when those two came together. And that was for the eighth position, which would have been right behind Ricciardo at the flag, from the back of the grid, which would have been sublime from Tsunoda.

“So that’s the one caveat – was the AlphaTauri just stonkingly quick around this circuit?”

Alex Brundle: Difficult to gauge Daniel Ricciardo performance

Racing driver Alex Brundle, a fellow guest on the podcast, said that the obvious question mark over Ricciardo’s performance is whether or not it represents the true performance level of the car or not.

“You always wonder, when there are those exceptional performances and moments of flashes of speed, whether they’re just the moments that either the drivers are delivering the capability of the car, or whether that’s the capability of the car and they’re underperforming the rest of the time,” he said.

“So it’s hard to know whether they’re exceptional performances or just what should be happening.”

But Brundle also pointed out that it was Ricciardo’s experience that resulted in a strong result, due to his wisdom in battle.

“But, when you look at Daniel Ricciardo today – what really impressed me beyond his pace and hanging on at the front early on, was the clumsy move, eventually, from Tsunoda,” he said.

“He found himself backward down at Turn 1.

“Ricciardo had a very similar battle with Norris but knew when to cede the position, knew when to give it up, and kept himself in the race. As a result, he is the AlphaTauri driver taking home points, and not Tsunoda.”

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