Daniel Ricciardo says there were plenty of things to be happy about after finishing an encouraging thirteenth on his return to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship grid on Sunday.
The Australian, who was drafted in to replace the sacked Nyck de Vries at Scuderia AlphaTauri after the British Grand Prix, survived first lap contact with Zhou Guanyu at turn one, the tap from the Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake driver pushing him then into the side of Esteban Ocon.
He fell to the back of the field as a result of the contact, and from there on he was forced to switch to an aggressive strategy to gain positions.
Ultimately, he ended the day in thirteenth position, just on the tail of Valtteri Bottas, and he feels points may have been a possibility had he not taken the hit on the opening lap that saw him lose multiple places.
“The whole weekend has been good and to come back, really feel all the things I’ve missed in the last twelve months, I can’t ask for more on the first weekend, and it gives me confidence,” said Ricciardo.
“I got hit in turn 1, and dropped to the tail of the pack. After that, we got stuck in traffic, but once we got some clear air, I could settle into a rhythm and from then on, I was happy.
“Our pace wasn’t bad, maybe we could’ve been in the points today, I don’t know, but our strategy was good, we were just a bit unlucky.
“On the other hand, the contact at the start could’ve ended my race, so I’m grateful the car was still ok, and I was able to do 70 laps to learn as much as possible. I’ll learn from the mistakes I made to get better and better, and I made little mental notes, which I will share with the team.
“Overall though, there are a lot of things to be happy about.”
“I didn’t put it all together and extract the maximum” – Yuki Tsunoda
Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda ended the day down in fifteenth, but an aggressive stance to start the race on the soft tyre was initially good before the pace of his AT04 appeared to tail off.
The Japanese racer made a few positions at the start thanks to the soft compound tyre, but at the end of the day, fifteenth was not the result he had been hoping for, with AlphaTauri still having scored two points across the opening eleven races of the season.
Tsunoda does not feel he maximised his potential or performance in Hungary, and he will be looking to turn his fortunes around this coming weekend at Spa-Francorchamps.
“We chose to start the race on the soft compound tyre today to gain as many positions as possible early in the race,” said Tsunoda. “The start was good, and I managed to make up quite a few places, so I’m happy with my performance.
“I had pace and was managing my tyres well today, especially on the soft compound, but unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out, so together with the team we’ll look at it. It’s a shame because the pace was there.
“Overall, I’m frustrated with myself because I didn’t put it all together and extract the maximum out of my performance every day. It’s been a week of learning and what I learnt today I will use in the future to maximise our performance.”