There is still room for improvement for Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian has been left with ‘”plenty to dissect” on his racing return in Saturday’s Formula 1 Sprint at Circuit of the Americas.

Ricciardo has returned to duties behind the wheel of the AlphaTauri after being sidelined due to a hand injury sustained during the Dutch Grand Prix weekend.

Qualifying 11th for his first race back, Ricciardo started the Sprint P10 following a grid drop for George Russell.

The 34-year-old would have to settle for 12th in the 19-lap race having lost two positions in the opening corner.

“There were some pros and cons. The pros were just being back out there, that put a smile on my face,” said Ricciardo in review of his Saturday in Austin.

“Sitting on the grid, seeing the lights go out – it’s a cool feeling. That little adrenaline spike, all those things it’s good to be part of again. So, overall I enjoyed it”. Ricciardo last took a race start in the Belgian Grand Prix prior to F1’s summer break.

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) AlphaTauri AT04.
21.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Sprint Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Rew / XPB Images

“The cons, obviously I’m very experienced. But this year, I’m not very experienced,” he continued. Ricciardo began the season as Red Bull’s third driver, but found himself promoted to a race seat with AlphaTauri in Hungary following the dismissal of Nyck de Vries.

“Just some line choices and things at the start. The inside got bottled up and I think two guys went around my outside. Little things like that.

“I can’t expect too much with the little I’ve done this year but yeah, little things like that it feels like deep down I should know better. It’s a good warmup race for tomorrow and plenty to dissect tonight.

“Some things I was still figuring out in the race and improved, some corners I was struggling. So, some things to look at from competitors and a little bit of setup to find some small adjustments.”

With a ‘little bit of a test race’ under his belt, the Australian is looking to build on a decent Saturday and help his team pick up points in Sunday’s grand prix.

“[I’m] confident that we can build on that tomorrow. It’s hot, tyres I guess it’s a two stop race with where it’s going. 

“There’s a bit of tyre difference [with remaining sets], so hopefully it’s a fun race. I felt like I was in battles most of the [Sprint], I don’t know how it was through the field but I think with this high deg and high temperatures, it should create some offsets and good racing. 

“It was encouraging that we had some pace at the end, so let’s see how it goes tomorrow.”

Ricciardo will start 15th for this afternoon’s United States Grand Prix which gets underway at 14:00 local time.

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