Ricciardo says 'race rust’ weighed on F1 race return

© XPB 

Daniel Ricciardo enjoyed feeling the adrenalin kick in as he lined up on the grid for Saturday’s sprint in Austin, but the AlphaTauri returnee admitted that “race rust” weighed on his performance.

Riccardo qualified 11th for the short 19-lap event, an encouraging performance that outpaced the efforts of his teammate Yuki Tsunoda.

The Aussie lined up in P10 courtesy of George Russell’s grid penalty and lost a couple of positions at the start, eventually crossing the checkered flag in 12th position.

"I would say there were definitely some pros and cons,” he said as he assessed his race return. “I think the pros were it was fun, I just really enjoyed being back on the grid.

“It's probably always my favourite feeling on a race weekend, when like the lights slowly all turn on and then off for the start, that adrenaline spike, it's hard to get that in many other things in life. So that was really enjoyable.

“I don't like saying it because I'm very experienced, but this year not so experienced. So a bit of race rust, I think.

“At Turn 1 part of me was like I should have seen the inside bottle up a little earlier, and I kind of stayed there, and then a couple cars went on the outside.

“So little kind of race reads which I probably missed a little bit. But then through the race I felt like I picked up some lines and made some improvements, but certainly still some things to work on for tomorrow."

Overall, the 34-year-old was satisfied with his day although he conceded that more improvements were needed.

"I was definitely happy with my qualifying today compared to yesterday, I think I certainly found a little bit more in myself. But the inside joke is we keep getting P11.

“Obviously Q3 is a big target for us, and as happy as I was with my lap today we were still P11. I'm happy with the improvements I made today.

"It was just more kind of racecraft, like I put on a good move on Stroll on the outside of one, but he got me into Turn 12.

“I thought I had him covered, I didn't so there was like some things there I'm like, ah, I should have made it harder for him."

Regarding his physical form and the condition of his left hand, Ricciardo had no concerns to formulate.

"To be honest, it's been okay, today was fine,” he said. “I think probably my biggest thing tomorrow is just some race fitness. Obviously, I got those two races before the break. And then haven't done anything really since!

“So it's kind of like Budapest all over again. So for sure, I expect to maybe sweat a little more than the others tomorrow. But honestly, this has been I want to say better than I thought, so yeah, no concerns for that tomorrow."

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