The numbers behind Daniel Ricciardo’s return to Formula 1

The numbers behind Daniel Ricciardo’s return to Formula 1

Daniel Ricciardo’s chances of replacing Sergio Perez at Red Bull next year have risen after last weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix – and the next three races could be a tough time for two of the circuit’s most popular drivers.

Ricciardo’s impressive fourth place in qualifying put him ahead of Perez on the Mexican grid in AlphaTauri – Red Bull’s lower-performance sister car – and Perez’s first-lap crash and retirement was a marked contrast to Ricciardo’s seventh-place finish.

It was a surprising turnaround in performance, significantly improving AlphaTauri’s previous performance this season, and it came just two races after Ricciardo returned to the grid for the second time this season following a crash during practice at Zandvoort.

In Brazil, Ricciardo has two more chances and will be keen to continue his form immediately in the sprint. It’s a long shot, but his odds on the podium are 250/1, a top six finish is at 16/1 and the points are at 3/1, while the points odds for both AlphaTauris are 22/1.

An uninspiring comeback

Ricciardo left McLaren last year but returned after just 11 races in the season. He was saved from retirement by a reserve role at Red Bull, and his performances in mid-season testing, coupled with Nyck de Vries’ poor performance at AlphaTauri, earned him the nod.

However, Ricciardo did not make an immediate impact on his comeback in Hungary – he recorded a time just 0.013 seconds faster than team-mate Yuki Tsunoda in qualifying and while that was enough to get him into Q2, he was dropped out of the following session. She started in thirteenth place.

In the race, the Australian dropped to last place after being hit from behind by Zhou Guanyu and then hitting the back of Esteban Ocon. He recovered to finish in the same place he started, while Tsunoda moved up two places from 17th to 15th.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

In his second race back, at Spa, Ricciardo crashed out in a wet Q1 while Tsunoda qualified 11th. Ricciardo finished tenth in the sprint race, but in the main race, Tsunoda finished tenth while his teammate suffered car damage and could only finish the race in sixteenth.

The next one is coming

Ricciardo was sidelined by an accident in third practice at the Dutch Grand Prix and only returned in the United States after five races. He reached Q2 there but qualified 16th and was nearly three-tenths off the pace of Tsunoda, who again qualified 11th.

After finishing twelfth in the Sprint Race – two places ahead of Tsunoda – Ricciardo finished last in the main race, a lap behind the leader, while Tsunoda climbed into the top ten, finishing eighth and setting the fastest lap. It was all shaping up to be a career ender.

But then something happened in Mexico. On a track that has always been a favorite of Ricciardo, the Australian recorded the eighth and sixth fastest times in Friday’s tests, and also ranked ninth in the third tests. Encouraging, but not amazing. Then came the playoffs.

Ricciardo finished third in Q1, just over a quarter of a second behind Verstappen, then cut a second off his time by the end of Q3 to finish fourth overall, less than two tenths slower than pole-sitter Charles Leclerc and within a tenth of Verstappen’s Reed. pee.

What made Ricciardo so fast?

It was a big swing from one weekend to the next, but it actually took a long time to create. While Ricciardo was nursing his broken hand, AlphaTauri delivered an aero update in Singapore, but its full potential has yet to be unleashed.

Heading into Mexico, the team had still only qualified in the top 10 in four events, with a best finish of eighth, and although Ricciardo had found a way to extract more performance in the US, the Sprint race system did not give him enough time To fully advance. Develop the opportunity.

The key to all of this was changing his settings to give him more confidence entering corners, allowing him to carry more speed all the way through each corner – and the three practice sessions in Mexico gave him the flexibility and time to develop this new one. Approaching.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04.

Photography: Red Bull Content Pool

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04.

He had already changed his settings before the first session of the weekend, making the car more stable out of the corner, with a more agile and still controllable rear end. Then he adjusted the settings to suit his driving style and the track, and it got better and better.

Can it continue?

Mexico is a twisty circuit. Its height of 2,285 meters can alter aerodynamic performance, which can make it unpredictable – and although São Paulo is the second highest track on the calendar, it is much lower, at only 800 metres, so The effects are much less.

That may reduce the AlphaTauri’s relative advantages over other cars in Mexico, but if Ricciardo truly finds a new direction, it should at least propel him up the standings, even if not to such lofty heights as we saw last weekend. .

Ricciardo has good feelings and will be excited by his experiences in Mexico. He was competing with both Mercedes in the AlphaTauri car and must have loved it. If he can build on that positivity, he’ll be on a high – but it could also go the other way.

Mercedes is Red Bull’s second favorite for Brazil, with the odds of both cars getting on the podium at 9/2 and the odds of either car finishing in the top six at 4/7. Meanwhile, the odds of the AlphaTauri being the first car to retire are 7/1.

Mexico requires good tire management, and Brazil is also difficult, with moderate degradation and high temperatures. Pirelli has taken the C3, C4 and C5 tires to Mexico, while Brazil will be the C2, C3 and C4, so Ricciardo will need to adjust his approach to achieve the same performance.

But the key point is that Ricciardo now has a consistent and balanced car that allows him to adapt it to suit his driving style. It took him a few races to achieve this, but now he has found the way, and his results will depend simply on the suitability of the track.

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Photography: Sam Bloxham/Motorsport Images

Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Meanwhile, Perez’s continued poor form is reflected in his odds of winning the sprint at 20/1 – despite being in a stock car. It’s 9/4 for both Red Bulls to get on the podium – and Perez needs to make it happen to defend his place.

Ricciardo’s chance to claim Red Bull is open, and while he may not reach the lofty heights of Mexico again, if he can take AlphaTauri to places it hasn’t been so far this year, he could leave Red Bull with a sabbatical – a seasonal headache.

Work tracking

To track the action, wherever you are, bet365’s F1 Live Tracker is a good place to go – covering all the information you could need, from all the practice sessions, through to qualifying, the sprints and the race itself.

It allows users to track each driver’s position from the start to finish grid, live throughout the race, with current leaderboard information, most recent lap times, current lap times, number of pit stops by a driver, current tire settings and gaps between drivers.

To make it easier to catch up, the schedule details all important race updates – including all major overtakes and incidents – and also allows for two drivers to be compared head-to-head during the race, highlighting them on the tracker.

Furthermore, all safety car updates and red and yellow flags are covered, while track information such as temperatures, humidity and chances of precipitation make it possible to monitor potential changes and challenges and more easily predict what could happen.

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