Daniel Ricciardo reveals he had to ‘fall back in love’ with Formula One before AlphaTauri return – Maxsports
May 20, 2024

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Daniel Ricciardo reveals he had to ‘fall back in love’ with Formula One before AlphaTauri return

Daniel Ricciardo reveals he had to ‘fall back in love’ with Formula One before returning to the grid…as Aussie star admits driving for AlphaTauri ‘will be a challenge’

Daniel Ricciardo has revealed he had ‘to fall back in love with Formula One’ before returning to the grid after an eight-month sabbatical.

The Australian confirmed last Tuesday he would be driving for AlphaTauri for the remainder of the season after the team axed rookie driver Nyck De Vries.

Ricciardo joins on loan from Red Bull, which owns AlphaTauri, and will make his first start at the Hungarian Grand Prix next week. 

Ricciardo returned to Red Bull as reserve driver this year after parting ways with McLaren 12 months earlier than planned following two unsuccessful seasons.

The 34-year-old vowed to remain in Formula One after being replaced by Oscar Piastri at McLaren, but failed to land a spot on the grid for this season.

Daniel Ricciardo admitted he had almost fallen out of love with Formula One

Daniel Ricciardo admitted he had almost fallen out of love with Formula One

The Australian returned to Red Bull as their reserve driver at the start of the season

The Australian returned to Red Bull as their reserve driver at the start of the season

And he admitted returning to Red Bull and taking a step back from racing had helped him refocus after four very difficult seasons at Renault and McLaren.

‘Falling out of love with it took a hit on my confidence,’ he said during an interview with Formula One’s YouTube channel on Saturday. 

‘If you’re competing in a sport where you’re trying to be the best at something, the best in the world at something, obviously you need full confidence and belief.

‘When that starts to diminish a bit, your enjoyment drops a bit as well. There’s a lot of factors. 

‘Getting back to Red Bull, just the reception I had walking back into that team was in a positive way a little bit overwhelming.’

In May, Ricciardo admitted to being ‘humbled’ by the lack of success he experienced with McLaren and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said he felt his passion for the sport was in danger of petering out.

Horner challenged Ricciardo to ‘rediscover his mojo’ but the eight-time Grand Prix winner conceded it took him a while to feel like he could still drive in Formula One.

‘Getting back on the simulator, I was a bit unsure how it was going to go, if the car would feel like it used to, if I was going to be like – for the lack of better words – “the old me”.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner (left) urged Ricciardo to rediscover his mojo in May

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner (left) urged Ricciardo to rediscover his mojo in May

Ricciardo drove the Red Bull for the first time this season in a test at Silverstone last week

Ricciardo drove the Red Bull for the first time this season in a test at Silverstone last week

‘But once I’d done a few sim sessions and started feeling like myself again it brought me back to normal Daniel where I was falling back in love and ready to go again.’

Speaking during the Australian Grand Prix in April, Ricciardo said he was only interested driving for a top team and not for one that will require him to start from scratch.

AlphaTauri, however, are firmly at the other end of the scale and sit last in the constructors’ championship after the opening 10 races of the season.

And Ricciardo said he was relishing the challenge ahead, despite the fact he’s unlikely to add to his 32 Formula One podiums anytime soon.

Ricciardo endured two very difficult seasons at McLaren before returning to Red Bull

Ricciardo endured two very difficult seasons at McLaren before returning to Red Bull

The Aussie will replace Nyck De Vries, who was sacked after failing to win a point in 10 races

The Aussie will replace Nyck De Vries, who was sacked after failing to win a point in 10 races

‘I’m excited about it,’ he said.

‘It’s a challenge for sure to jump in and try to hit the ground running. 

‘But also I guess I feel like I’ve been through a lot in the last few years where I’m not really scared of anything that’s going to be thrown my way – so I actually really do like the challenge.

‘It will be a challenge but I don’t know if I’d have it any other way.’