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Ricciardo says lure of ‘fairy tale’ ending led to AlphaTauri return

Daniel Ricciardo on Thursday explained how the lure of a fairy tale ending led him to return and race for struggling AlphaTauri at this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.The 34-year-old Australian is back on the Formula One grid with the misfiring outfit despite having previously stated he was only interested in racing with front-running teams.



Released by McLaren last year after two disappointing seasons with the Woking-based outfit Ricciardo said he believed AlphaTauri offered him “the best path” back to a seat with the senior Red Bull team.He accepted the chance to replace luckless Dutch rookie Nyck de Vries after the British Grand Prix for the rest of the 2023 season, having been reserve driver for the champions.



“The dream is a Red Bull seat,” said Ricciardo who claimed seven wins when driving for the team between 2014 and 2018.”But there is no ‘this is what you need to do’ and everything has happened so quickly.”The test was the first box to tick off. That was great. Now this is another hurdle.”They’re not like ‘take it easy’ – they’re more like ‘show us what you’ve got’.”



“I had enough time off to re-set,” he told reporters at the Hungaroring circuit.”But also, kind of, to enjoy it again. I had felt that already in the simulator this year — that’s why I wanted to drive the car and make sure that it is truly what I love to do most.”He took part in a Pirelli tyre test at Silverstone on July 11.”I was up to speed really quickly and it felt so good again and obviously tasting the Red Bull car got me excited,” he added.



“I knew that after the last few years to get back at the top after taking some time off would be hard.”You need to be realistic at some point and say ‘ok, if I want a Red Bull seat then it’s going to take a bit of a process.”Six months ago, I wasn’t in a place to jump at any opportunity.”Ricciardo said he felt sorry for De Vries.”I know in F1 he’s not particularly experienced, but in motor racing, he is. I feel he is mature enough to understand and if he wants it he can get back and make something happen.”



He conceded that AlphaTauri’s car would have “some limitations” adding that he has to do the best with what he’s got.”If I was ever to get back into that Red Bull seat it would feel like a fairy tale ending, but I know this sport is about performance, not fairy tales.Max Verstappen welcomed the return of his former team-mate despite periods of tension between them at Red Bull when the defending double world champion was a young driver.- ‘Great Daniel is back’ –



Ricciardo collided with Verstappen in his final season at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix when their rivalry was intense.But Verstappen, who this weekend bids to extend his 99-point lead in the drivers championship ahead of current Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez, said he always enjoyed a good relationship with Ricciardo.”Actually, I never wanted him to leave,” he said.”We know that we get on very well and if Daniel does well where he is now then, of course, he has the opportunity to go back up. So, it is all open.”Verstappen added: “It’s great to have Daniel back on the grid, within the family.
“But, on the other side, I am good friends with Nyck so it’s also sad to see him go. Unfortunately, that’s how this world works.”

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