Hungary offers watershed moment for Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo in the garage with engineers

This weekend’s Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix could be something of a watershed moment for Daniel Ricciardo’s season.

After a tough start to his career with McLaren, recent performances have suggested he’s beginning to feel at ease with the tricky MCL35M.

He’s been left buoyed by stronger showings at the Austrian and British Grands Prix, recording a season-best fifth at Silverstone last time out.

Heading into this weekend’s race, he’s even entertained thoughts of a podium appearance.

Ricciardo is the highest placed driver in the championships standings yet to climb onto the rostrum this season.

“Obviously, that’s the target, that’s been the target really since the start of the year,” he said when asked if a top three result is achievable.

“Another top five would be a certainly solid result but a very good result would be spraying some bubbly.”

Should he do so, the 32-year-old suggests it would draw something of a line under the early season woes he endured.

“I think if I can get another strong result here, then you can probably read into it a little more,” he said of his recent form.

“I’ve had the occasional good result this year, but I haven’t really put a massive string together.

“That’s why I think I’ve got to back it up and then we’ll get a bit more chatting going.”

While there is potential for this weekend to all but silence his critics, it is not without its risks.

Another difficult weekend would send the Australian into the mid-season break still scratching his head, with half the 2021 season done.

In his favour is the fact that the Hungaroring has been kind to the Perth native, winning in 2014 and picking up podiums in the subsequent two editions of the event.

“It’s a track I’ve always enjoyed,” he reasoned.

“It’s probably got one of the best second sectors on the whole calendar, so hopefully all that excitement and happiness turns into a good result.”

Following this weekend’s race, Ricciardo is set to stay on in Hungary as McLaren takes part in Pirelli’s 2022 tyre test at the venue on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Prior to that, opening practice for the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix begins at 19:30 AEST tonight.

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