Daniel Ricciardo says his recent struggles in Formula 1 mean he’s “not really scared of anything” as he gets ready to try and prove himself to Red Bull in an uncompetitive AlphaTauri.
Nyck de Vries was dropped after just 10 races with the team, as Red Bull is keen to evaluate Ricciardo’s potential following two tough seasons at McLaren. AlphaTauri has scored two points all year — both courtesy of Yuki Tsunoda — and sits at the bottom of the constructors’ championship, but the Australian says it’s the sort of environment that gives him the chance to show Red Bull he can handle adversity.
“I’m excited about it,” Ricciardo told Formula 1. “It’s a challenge for sure to jump in and try to hit the ground running, but I guess I feel like I’ve also been through a lot the last year — or the last few years — where I’m not really scared of anything that’s going to be thrown my way. So for that I actually really do like the challenge. And I say ‘challenge’ because yes, it will be a challenge, but I don’t know if I’d have it any other way.
“Going back to the start of the year, getting back into the Red Bull family, felt like full circle; now going back to AlphaTauri — which was once Toro Rosso — is all very full circle right now. But I understand this is my journey back, this is the process and the path and I’m ready to embrace it.
“The car will be what it is. I’m going to drive it and work from there. I don’t want to get too many preconceived ideas. I appreciate the car’s going to have its limitations. I’m sure they’re probably just lacking some overall downforce and things like this, but I think if it’s a car that feels balanced — it might not have as much grip as the Red Bull I drove a few days ago — that’s something I can work with.
“I’m looking forward to also developing it and using my experience. But ultimately, I think for Budapest, just go out and have fun, try and use more right foot than left and have a good time!”
Ricciardo admits Red Bull will want to see him delivering in the car quickly but that it’s no different to when he was a younger driver at Toro Rosso and had to perform in the same manner to earn himself a promotion.
“They expect results, performances… Until I get back into a 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 — obviously there’s two races and the summer break — I don’t think there’s a ‘you have to do this before August’ but I also don’t expect to get off to a slow start. I want to hit the ground running and try to use what I’ve learned in this time off, to put it to use.
“That’s why it feels a bit like back when I was working my way up through it, in the Red Bull family. It was like, ‘If you get results, we’ll keep pushing you.’ That’s really the mindset.
“I know (for) the team it’s been tough to get a points finish this year, a top 10, so to push this car and try to get it inside the top 10, I think that would get everyone pretty fulfilled and excited.”