Ricciardo: 'No question I was going to say yes' to AlphaTauri offer


Daniel Ricciardo says he gave little thought to Red Bull's offer to join AlphaTauri, knowing that there was "no question" that he was going to say yes.

Ricciardo will return to the fray next week in Hungary, filling the seat at the Faenza-based squad previously occupied by Nyck de Vries.

At the end of last season, after an unsuccessful two-year spell with McLaren that was cut short by team and driver, Ricciardo admitted to have fallen out of love with Formula 1.

At the time, the 34-year-old Australian driver felt that a year on the sidelines, albeit as a reserve with Red Bull Racing, would provide him with a much-needed reset as well as clarity on his desires – or lack of – as a Grand Prix driver.

But it only took a few race weekends embedding with Red Bull to convince the Honey Badger of where he wanted to be: on the grid!

And his outing earlier this week at Silverstone where he was assigned by Red Bull to a Pirelli tyre test capped off the confirmation process.

"I enjoyed this… Call it six months off – I think it was really good for me," he told Formula 1's Lawrence Barretto.

"But the more races I started to attend, the more sim I started to do, I was certainly getting the bug back, so to speak.

"Then jumping into the car a few days ago, I was like, ‘Oh yeah!’, it all felt very normal. It was one of those ones, the very first lap, ‘Oh, this is fast!’, then within a few it’s, ‘OK, I want to go faster now!’, so it was really good."

Riccardo's test, the result of which was conveyed by Christian Horner to Helmet Marko, compelled the latter to take immediate action. Within 15 minutes, the Austrian dismissed de Vries and tabled an offer to Ricciardo.

"I was like 'ok, let's just hear what he has to say'," recounted Ricciardo as he described his reaction when Marko's name popped up on his phone.

"I think that’s probably the best thing, because sometimes you’re trying to prepare yourself, ‘What if he asks for this?’ So [I thought], ‘Let’s just hear him out and see what happens’.

"I didn’t really need to think much about it. I think, as well, being back in this family, I feel so much… I would say there’s certainly some familiarity, but I also feel at home, I feel like I’m kind of just going through it all again.

"These were the calls I used to get and these were the moments they used to kind of throw in front of us. There was no question that I was going to say yes, it was just I guess the reality of, ‘OK, it’s going to happen pretty soon’."

Ricciardo's first order of business next week at the Hungaroring will be to assess just how bad AlphaTauri's AT04 car is. The team currently sits dead last in the Constructors' standings, with just two points on the board, courtesy of Yuki Tsunoda.

But the eight-time Grand Prix winner says he'll approach his new endeavor without any "preconceived ideas".

"The car will be what it is," he said. "I’m going to drive it and work from there. I don’t want to get too much… Preconceived ideas.

"I appreciate the car’s going to have its limitations. I’m sure they’re probably just lacking some overall downforce and things like this.

"But I think if it’s a car that feels balanced – it might not have as much grip as the Red Bull I drove a few days ago – that’s something I can work with.

"I’m looking forward to also developing it and using my experience, and ultimately, I think, for Budapest, just go out and have fun, try and use more right foot than left and have a good time!"

For Ricciardo, a return to Faenza, where he began in earnest his forward march in F1 in 2012, is a home coming of sorts. But it's also perhaps a trip back to the future, a future with Red Bull Racing.

"That’s why it feels a bit like back when I was working my way up through it, in the Red Bull family," he added.

"That was it, ‘If you get results, we’ll keep pushing you, we’ll keep pushing you’. That’s really like the mindset.

"I know the team… It’s been tough to get a points finish this year, a top 10, so to push this car and try to get it inside the top 10, I think that would get everyone pretty fulfilled and excited."

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