Ricciardo believes he has ‘top-10 car’ for Mexico qualifying


A confident Daniel Ricciardo believes he’ll be fighting for a spot among the top-ten in qualifying on Saturday in Mexico, having clocked in an impressive sixth with AlphaTauri in Friday’s FP2.

After a two-month break to nurse his fractured left hand back to full strength, Ricciardo returned to the track last week in Austin.

But the Aussie’s comeback was a disappointing affair at The Circuit of the Americas where he closed out the field on Sunday after struggling with a damaged car and an ill-timed pit stop.

However, a full day of practice on Friday at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez coupled with set-up changes that now allow him to better exploit AlphaTauri’s latest upgrades propelled Ricciardo up the ranks in FP2.

Of course, the stand-out performance requires confirmation, one that the 34-year-old hopes will come in qualifying this afternoon.

“I’m definitely confident,” said Ricciardo after Friday’s sessions. “I can’t stand here and predict where I will be because who knows in quali and what other teams might do with fuel or engines.

“But I know what I felt in the car was good, and I believe that is a top-10 car tomorrow. A top-six car would be nice. I will try to keep that going.”

Ricciardo admitted that after his miserable run to P17 in Austin, he was “pretty hungry” to get back on track and prove his pace in Mexico City.

“I got back to the hotel Sunday night, and I wished it was Friday in Mexico,” he recalled. “I was certainly pretty, pretty hungry to keep going after Austin.

“There were also some things we discovered after the race that made me want to get back on track and prove we do obviously have some pace, so it (Mexico practice) was fun. I do enjoy this place as well. It’s good.

“We made good progress with a few little things with set up, which if it hadn’t been for the sprint weekend in Austin we would have tried there.

“From the get-go, we were certainly comfortable, and then we just chipped away at it. So that’s positive. And I was just ready to go. It’s good to drive.

“I’m very, very hungry and motivated, which feels good, and it looks like we’re in a good place, but it is very close.

“We were P6, which is great, so not too big a gap to the front, but also behind its close. So now it’s about putting it together (for qualifying).”


In Austin, the weekend’s compressed schedule provided no opportunity to dig in, seek and extract performance from AlphaTauri’s updated charger.

While Mexico City and its high altitude offer their own set of challenges, Ricciardo believes that he has certainly gained a good understanding and a better feeling for his car in Friday’s trouble-free pair of sessions.

“Obviously it’s high downforce but low grip, but I think just with a bit bigger wing I could feel the car squat a bit nicer in the second sector in that kind of flip-flop section,” remarked Ricciardo.

“We’re probably still not a top-10 car in the high speed but I do feel like it’s a bit more connected under the rear and that felt nice.

“To have a good feeling with the car around here is nearly impossible because of the altitude, and even the fast cars don’t always feel that good here.

“So considering some strengths that I felt on a grip level like this, I think it’s positive.”


With confidence a crucial component of a driver’s ability to perform, Ricciardo suggests that his poise and assurance are now back to the level they were before his mishap at Zandvoort.

“The lap before I crashed in Zandvoort, I was feeling pretty good,” said Ricciardo. “We made some changes before that P2, and it was a direction we were looking at going, and that felt good until it didn’t.

“So that was what we were able to pursue a little bit more [on Friday], and I think it’s a position where I’m definitely more comfortable with this car and feel like I can attack it the way I like.

“Obviously, I’m very complimentary and positive – that’s a fact, but we will still stay level-headed (for qualifying). But it’s nice to be driving and just ready to kick some ass.”

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