AlphaTauri: ‘Old Daniel’ already back to winning level

Daniel Ricciardo is already ahead of schedule on his latest F1 comeback

Daniel Ricciardo is already ahead of schedule on his latest F1 comeback. Image: James Bearne/XPB

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost believes Daniel Ricciardo is already back to a level when he was winning F1 races.

Tost has been left surprised by how quickly Ricciardo has found his feet following a five-race, two-month lay-off after shattering a bone in his hand in seven places from a crash in practice for the Dutch GP at the end of August.

Ricciardo was far from happy with his initial efforts across the recent United States GP weekend, although was compromised by damage sustained to the brake ducts that resulted in him taking the chequered last of the 17 classified finishers.

Across practice the Mexico City GP, however, Ricciardo has rediscovered the form Tost knew he was capable of – and ahead of schedule.

“He’s still in the period of getting up to speed up with everything,” said Tost, approaching the end of his time in charge of the team after 17 seasons at the helm. “Because if you’re out Formula 1, and if you are injured, it takes time.

“I said to Daniel from the beginning, when he came to Austin, that Austin would be a difficult race.

“I told him not to care about this, to just get used to the car, get familiar with everything, and that Mexico would be a similar challenge.

“I expected we would see the old Daniel, whom we know can win races, in São Paulo (next weekend), but it looks like he is already here, on this level.”

Ricciardo quickly proved his team boss correct with a stunning performance in qualifying that will see him start from the second row of tomorrow’s race.

Going into the race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, AlphaTauri sits bottom of the constructors’ standings, two points adrift of Haas and six behind eighth-placed Alfa Romeo.

Tost is confident there is “enough in the car”, particularly from what has been seen so far in Mexico, for his team to at least avoid F1’s ‘wooden spoon’ this season.

“We can be in front of them but to be in front of them is one story, to score points is another,” explained Tost.

“Because if all the top teams finish, it’s not so easy to be within the first 10 and to score points.

“Of course, we will do our best. There are still four races to go, and I’m optimistic we will compete well in the future and beat these teams.”

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