Ricciardo says P4 grid slot ‘no fluke’ as he vows to ‘put up a fight’ in Mexico City GP
Daniel Ricciardo converted his promising pace so far this weekend in the AlphaTauri AT04 to a spectacular P4 on the grid for the Mexico City Grand Prix – with the Australian vowing to battle hard to try and stay ahead of his rivals in Sunday’s race.
Ricciardo – in just his second weekend back after recovering from a broken hand had looked strong from the get-go in Mexico, a constant presence in the top 10 throughout the three free practice sessions.
With team mate Yuki Tsunoda set to start Sunday’s race from the back of the grid following a power unit change up, Ricciardo then benefitted from a tow from the Japanese driver in Q1 and Q2 to haul himself into Q3.
Once there, though, Ricciardo showed searing pace to net AlphaTauri’s best grid slot of 2023 with P4, just 0.216s off Ferrari’s surprise pole-sitter Charles Leclerc.
“There’s lots of good energy right now,” said Ricciardo, when asked whether the result was an emotional one for him after his recent injury comeback.
“I just want to rip my shirt off! Look, I’m very happy with P4, it’s an amazing result for us as a team. So on the one hand, I think the result is crazy – but already from yesterday, even from the first lap, I just had a lot of good feeling in the car
“A few things that didn’t go our way last weekend [in Austin] – I certainly carried a little bit of a chip on my shoulder this week coming into the weekend; I couldn’t wait, couldn’t wait to get back in the car, I was as excited and hungry as I’ve felt in a very long time.
“Obviously today is half the job. We’ll focus on tomorrow in an hour or so, but in the next hour, we’ll enjoy this and it feels very, very nice.”
Asked, meanwhile, about his chances of staying P4 – or maybe even finishing higher – in Sunday’s race, Ricciardo replied: “On one hand, I say that would be awesome and crazy, but I don’t know if I should use the word ‘crazy’, because I think today wasn’t a fluke.
“I think Q1 and Q2, Yuki [Tsunoda] was great and gave us a slipstream, so that definitely gave us that extra little tenth or two to get in. But Q3, we were out there on our own and we had raw pace, so I think from that point of view: no fluke, we’ve got the pace to do it.
“You would expect the top teams to maybe show a little bit more on long runs. But personally, I feel great in the car, I feel confident, so I’ll put up a fight and if we’re here, P4 or somewhere around there tomorrow, I think we’ll be pretty happy.
“As I said, half the job’s done,” added Ricciardo, “I’m still keeping that fire in the belly for tomorrow.”
With AlphaTauri currently bringing up the rear in the constructors’ standings, a big pay day for the team could see them leapfrog immediate rivals Haas and Alfa Romeo in the table, the team two and six points behind those rivals respectively as it stands.