Ricciardo excited by Sprint challenge as he prepares to go ‘straight into business’ at Spa
After impressing on his return to F1 at the Hungaroring last time out, Daniel Ricciardo knows he’s in for a different kind of test at the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, as he gets set to experience the sport’s revised Sprint format for the first time.
While Ricciardo is no stranger to the Sprint, he has yet to navigate the new-for-2023 structure that sees Saturday set aside for the Sprint Shootout and Sprint race – split from Friday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Arriving at a wet Spa-Francorchamps on Thursday, Ricciardo was asked to reflect on his first race back and whether he’s got rid of the rust, saying: “I shook some of it off. But I think this weekend is another challenge with, firstly, the weather, but then the Sprint format.
“There won’t be much messing around and then we’re obviously straight into business from tomorrow afternoon. The thought of that is exciting but I know I’ll have to be on it from the start. In saying that, it’s the same for everyone.”
As for how he’s feeling at the wheel of AlphaTauri’s AT04, the Australian has taken plenty of encouragement from the Hungary weekend and his run to 13th in qualifying and the race – despite getting caught up in a first-corner clash triggered by Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.
“I felt like last week it all went pretty well,” said Ricciardo. “It was hard to really gauge where I’ll be. I always try to expect a little bit from myself, but everything felt good.
“I felt pretty dialled in with the crew and the engineer, so that was all positive. I think, not only for me, but the team as well, it was a last-minute change so everyone needs to adapt – it’s not just me and everyone handled it well.
“For the race, I think we pitted on Lap 29 or something for a medium [tyre] and got to the end pretty well with that, so we did some good things.”