Aussie F1 star Daniel Ricciardo has opened up about how one test drive earlier this year salvaged his career.
Ricciardo, 34, was in sporting limbo at the time after he was sacked by Maclaren, eventually signing on as a reserve driver for Red Bull this season.
Following the British Grand Prix on July 10 at the Silverstone circuit, the Perth-born driver stunned Red Bull officials after recording a superb time which was fractionally behind Max Verstappen, who had secured pole position days earlier.
A set of new tyres had made a profound difference, and all of a sudden, Ricciardo was reborn.
‘I’m not going to sugar coat it. The first timed lap was on the money,’ he told F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.
‘It was [only] a few hundredths off Max [Verstappen].
‘Coming into that lap, I was so excited. I was treating it like a qualifying lap.
Aussie F1 star Daniel Ricciardo has opened up about how one test drive earlier this year at Silverstone salvaged his career
At the time, Ricciardo, 34, was in sporting limbo after he was sacked by Maclaren, eventually signing on as a reserve driver for Red Bull
‘I just had that feeling in the car and that confidence. There was elements of the car that felt so familiar … I kind of just knew what it could do and what it was capable of.’
Ricciardo – who finished the season driving for Red Bull-owned AlphaTauri after replacing Nyck de Vries – admitted he was elated at the time.
Verstappen’s time to secure pole position was a slick 1:26.720.
‘I’m not going to say it was easy or effortless, but I had a lot of confidence the car could do what it could do,’ he added.
‘Crossing the line, when I looked at the time, I was like, ‘I don’t know if I was expecting to go that quick.
‘I knew the day had potential to be a really good day, but I’d be lying if I said I was going to do that first lap with new tyres. That was kind of wild. It gave me a big smile.’
At the same Grand Prix in England, Ricciardo was reunited with former Red Bull teammate and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Former Red Bull teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel caught up at the Silverstone circuit in July
The pair drove for Red Bull in 2014 and have stayed close since, with Ricciardo praising Vettel for being a ‘true friend’ as he struggled through a horror season with McLaren in 2022
The Aussie eventually returned to the F1 grid, representing the Red Bull owned AlphaTauri (pictured) this season
Vettel spent the 2014 season with Ricciardo at Red Bull before leaving for Ferrari, but the pair have remained good mates.
Ricciardo also stated the German superstar had been a ‘true friend’ as he struggled to have an impact with McLaren.
‘He’s picked up the phone multiple times, and just been a friend, and just, like, showing care, just checking in, checking in as a true friend would do,’ he said.
‘To have friends like that is so important. But it’s also not that common, in terms of the grid.
‘We get on with drivers, and you do build friendships, but to have that kind of deeper level of friendship….some gestures he made, and some of the kindness he showed towards me was, in a way, kind of unexpected.’
Ricciardo returned to Red Bull as reserve driver this year after parting ways with McLaren 12 months earlier than planned following two unsuccessful seasons.