“As much as I want to win again” in F1, it won’t “dictate my happiness” — Ricciardo

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Daniel Ricciardo said that winning isn’t everything during the second phase of his career following his return to Formula 1 in the middle of 2023.

The Australian performed admirably at times since stepping in for Nyck De Vries in Hungary, qualifying fourth at the Mexican Grand Prix and finishing an excellent seventh on the Sunday.

Ricciardo said: “But as much as I want to win again, it’s really because I believe I can, but I’m not going to dictate this second phase of my career just on that.

“I’d say dictate my happiness, dictate how I classify success in this second phase. I’d say to win again would be a bonus. I feel like I’m not carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and it’s nice.”

The AlphaTauri driver hasn’t stood on the top step of the podium since the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, a race where Verstappen and Hamilton famously came together at the first chicane to open the door for the Perth driver to claim his eighth victory.

Ricciardo was dropped by McLaren at the end of last year and had to settle for a reserve driver role at Red Bull.

After De Vries’ lacklustre performances, the Australian was given the chance to return to F1.

His blisteringly quick speed over one lap at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez proved the 34-year-old still had the same qualities that has won him eight Grands Prix, including that famous win in Monaco five years ago.

He explained that qualifying fourth in Mexico gave him the same good feelings, particularly as the AlphaTauri spent most of the season floundering outside the top 10 and regularly getting knocked out in Q1. That was before a series of upgrades transformed the AT04.

Daniel Ricciardo's AlphaTauri driving at the Mexican Grand Prix in the stadium section
Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

“It doesn’t have to be always a fourth place in qualifying, but it’s to put the car in a position where people don’t expect to see that car.

“And that’s the stuff that excites you. And the fourth felt like a pole because it felt like the AlphaTauri this year had no place to be on the second row of the grid. It just didn’t ever look like that. So, that stuff gets me excited.

“It definitely gets the butterflies going inside me. And, if that can happen, then obviously, it could open up doors later on to fight for wins again.”

The Italian team has retained Ricciardo alongside Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda for 2024 as AlphaTauri look to improve on their eighth place finish in the Constructors’ Championship.

Ricciardo has become a popular character in the F1 paddock and is eyeing more events, such as the Mexican Grand Prix, next season.

The Australian explained that Mexico gave the whole AlphaTauri team a boost ahead of the final three rounds of the season.

“I think it’s just to try and get the most out of where I’m at. I’m now talking about results, but a weekend like Mexico. That’s a weekend where I felt everything I needed to feel again.

“The team was very happy, everyone was happy and those things help everything moving forward. It’s just really about trying to have those weekends.”