Daniel Ricciardo ‘hurt’ by press question and sulked in garage

Daniel Ricciardo produced an emphatic response after a press question left him ‘hurt’ and sulking in the garage. The Australian qualified in P4 for the F1 Mexican GP before crossing the line in seventh place, which was AlphaTauri’s best finish of the season.

Once again Ricciardo showed his quality which had been missing from the sport this season before he returned to the grid in July. But according to the F1 Nation podcast with Tom Clarkson and fellow presenter Natalie Pinkham, a comment from a member of the media provided the 34-year-old with even more motivation to have an excellent race at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit.

“There was an interesting question in the press conference on Thursday,” Clarkson explained. “A local journalist said, ‘Daniel are you more of an entertainer or a racing driver’? And I felt that somehow hurt him.”

After returning from injury at the US GP on October 22, in Mexico Ricciardo registered his best finish since the same event in 2022. Post-race the ecstatic driver told Sky Sports F1: “​​A lot of emotions. Relieved as well. Two starts on this track… you hold your breath because it’s such a long run to Turn One.

“The first start we started fourth and came through in fourth, so I was pretty happy, especially when we know we have a bit more drag then others. The second one. When I saw the red flag I knew it would probably hurt our race. We were in fifth and potentially could have finished there.

“Then starting on the hard with other cars on the medium…just to lose one spot is close to a best case scenario. To fight a Mercedes at the end is a big weekend for us. I’m happy-sad. All in all, it’s a good weekend. After last weekend, this was the weekend I dreamed of and we got it.”

Ricciardo, who has already been confirmed to stay at AlphaTauri alongside Yuki Tsunoda for 2024, fought hard against Mercedes star Lewis Hamilton in the early stages of the race. The Aussie was also just half a second behind George Russell at the chequered flag in the battle for sixth. Ricciardo is being closely watched by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, as AlphaTauri is Red Bull’s sister team. Horner was delighted to see Ricciardo produce a great performance and believes his conference will only continue to grow.

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“It is great to see Daniel performing so well and fully endorses the reason why we brought him back into the AlphaTauri,” said Horner. “I thought he was outstanding this weekend, fighting Mercedes in an AlphaTauri – and had it not been for the red flag, he’d have finished higher up, so it was a great performance and certainly looked like the Daniel of old this weekend.”

He added: “You couldn’t fail to be impressed by Daniel this weekend. His qualifying was outstanding and he showed his maturity and experience and pace in the race. I think fighting a Mercedes in an AlphaTauri for their best result of the year was a great performance.

“Had it not been for the red flag he might have actually finished even further up. He can take a lot of confidence coming back from injury, he’s had a rough time over the last couple of months having to sit on the sidelines but that’s the Daniel we’re used to seeing.”

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