Helmut Marko is already satisfied with the decision to give Daniel Ricciardo a second chance with AlphaTauri, with the Australian’s impressive comeback dominating the F1 news cycle.
After spending half a year on the sidelines, few could have predicted that Ricciardo would find his feet so quickly with the Faenza squad.
Despite his time away, the Australian managed to finish ahead of young teammate Yuki Tsunoda in both qualifying and the race.
Several strong weekends will be necessary to convince Red Bull that he is prepared for an F1 return, but a start like this can only be a positive.
Speaking post-race in Hungary, Helmut Marko had no doubts about whether the abrupt decision to bring Ricciardo back was correct:
“It was a very strong and mature performance,” Sky Germany quotes him as saying.
“He lost three or four places due to the collision after the start [involving Zhou and the Alpine’s].
“13th place is an okay result, but it is also the positive momentum that he brought to the team.
“And a stabilisation of the technical statements and changes – the change worked out perfectly.”
Although a 13th place finish won’t capture too many headlines, it is a very strong result in the context of AlphaTauri’s season.
The AT04 has struggled to score points throughout the year, with the progression of teams like McLaren making top 10 finishes even more difficult to attain.
As opposed to Q3 appearences or stand-out results (which would certainly be welcomed), Ricciardo’s success will be measured by direct comparisons against his teammate.
It remains to be seen how Sergio Pérez performs in the rest of 2023, although there is at least a fair chance the Mexican driver will experience at least some difficult patches.
With this in mind, Ricciardo must rise to the challenge of consistently finding his best form in a relatively limited time frame – amidst all the pressure and intensity of F1 news outlets.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang