Daniel Ricciardo has secured a P13 start with his struggling AlphaTauri car at the Hungarian Grand Prix as the Australian showed promising signs on his Formula One return.Ricciardo, 34, is looking to prove he still has what it takes to perform at the highest level after signing a short-term deal with Red Bull’s junior team this month, replacing the disappointing Nyck De Vries.
With AlphaTauri rooted to the bottom of the constructors’ championship, and failing to get out of Q1 in their last four races, Ricciardo delivered in his first qualifying session back, putting his car on P13 for Sunday’s race.
Meanwhile, fellow countryman Oscar Piastri – who replaced Ricciardo at McLaren last year – put his car on the second row as he continued his good form after finishing fourth at the British Grand Prix.
Ricciardo’s return has been welcomed by many in the paddock, with reigning world champion and former teammate Max Verstappen admitting he never wanted the Australian to leave Red Bull in 2018. ‘I never actually wanted him to leave,’ he said. ‘It’s great to have Daniel back on the grid and within the family.
‘We know that we get on very well, and if Daniel does well where he is now, then of course you have the opportunity to go back up [to Red Bull], right?
‘It’s all open, to be honest.
‘I spoke already quite a bit with Daniel last week. I could see he was very excited, also after driving our car [in a tyre test at Silverstone].’
Ricciardo has returned to the grid with AlphaTauri after serving as Red Bull’s reserve driver for the first 11 races of the season, and says he has had a seamless transition back into the driver’s seat.’Obviously there’s a lot of outside attention, but once I put the helmet on and got in the car, it all felt in a way like I never really left, so that was nice,’ Ricciardo said after first practice at the Hungaroring circuit on Friday.