Ricciardo: Points possible without first corner setback

© XPB 

Daniel Ricciardo believes he could have scored a top-ten finish in the Hungarian Grand Prix had he been spared the commotion that unfolded at the start of the race.

The F1 returnee finished 13th in his first F1 race since last year in Abu Dhabi, but it was an eventful return to active duty for the AlphaTauri driver.

As the field barreled into the first corner after the start, Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu, who suffered a slow launch off the grid, locked up and ploughed into the back of Ricciardo who then hit Ocon, who was pushed into the side of the sister Alpine car of Pierre Gasly.

While both Alpine were forced to retire, Ricciardo miraculously escaped the mayhem without any damage. However, now sitting last, the Australian was left with work to do.

Ricciardo progressed into the top ten during his first stint as his rivals peeled off into the pits, but his own swap from the mediums to hards on lap 18 sent him once again to the back of the field.

But during his third stint he eventually managed to move up the order, overtaking both Haas cars in the process, to cross the checkered flag P13.

"If we stayed ahead and held position at the start I believe we could have really fought for a points finish today," Ricciardo said after he race.

“I was kind of just stuck behind a bit of a train behind Sargeant and someone else and I knew in dirty air, even with these new cars, this circuit is definitely a hard one to follow at.

"But I think they pitted quite early and as soon as they did I felt the grip coming back in the tyre and thought ‘let’s see what we can do in clear air’. And that was better.

"Then we pitted relatively early. I think we got put back in trafifc and that’s when I was like ‘whatever we can do let’s have a think to give me clear air.’

"Once we got some clear air, I could settle into a rhythm and from then on, I was happy. Our pace wasn’t bad, but our strategy was good, we were just a bit unlucky."

Taking stock of his return to the fray, Ricciardo felt that his few months away from racing had instilled new energy into his mindset.

"Even if it wasn’t the year I expected off, half a year still gave me a kind of reset," he said. "I feel energised again.

"Actually, I remember having a conversation with Alonso, maybe two years ago now. We were just having a chat and he said the break for him was one of the best things he ever did.

"That got me thinking that if I ever feel I need it, don’t be so scared of it. Then I think seeing the year he’s had filled me with some confidence.

"Really glad to have been put in this position and come back feeling everything normal again. The grid, the start, the adrenaline, the emotion… I enjoyed it all."

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