Daniel Ricciardo says he is feeling “quite optimistic” over AlphaTauri’s prospects at the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend following Friday practice.

Ricciardo has returned to a race drive in Formula 1 for the remainder of the 2023 campaign, replacing Nyck de Vries at the Red Bull sister team.

The eight-time grand prix winner has faced huge attention in the early stages of the Budapest weekend, after departing McLaren at the end of the 2022 season.

With the second practice session being the only relevant outing on Friday due to FP1 being hit with rain, Ricciardo ended up 14th on the timesheet.

Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda had a positive day, setting the fourth fastest time of the session.

However, Ricciardo expressed that lap times at this stage are not relevant.

“Positions, it’s probably not too relevant at the moment,” he said. “I think it was just more for me today to feel basically where I am with the car. 

“It all felt pretty familiar. Obviously there’s a lot of outside attention, but once I put the helmet on and got in the car, it felt, in a way, like I never really left, so that was nice. 

“And obviously this morning, we didn’t really get anything. But this afternoon, I think yeah, just a little bit on the new tire, but nothing really I’m concerned about. 

“The car felt OK. Yeah, to be honest, doesn’t feel too bad. A bit of work tonight, but nothing crazy.”

Ricciardo left the McLaren F1 set-up at the end of last year following a difficult two seasons with the Woking-based squad.

Despite being out of a race seat for several months, he says he felt normal taking to the track once again.

“It felt, in a way, it felt normal, being back in the car,” he said. “That was nice. 

“This morning, I think I got one dry lap, but even the one lap, I felt already OK, this is cool, it feels good again. 

“The afternoon, I think the first set on Medium, it was not too bad, we were kind of working away at it, and then on the Soft, yeah, I was still learning, putting a lap together. 

“But in general, I got a good feeling in the car today, and things for me to work on, which I’m not too concerned about, and then some things on the car which we can keep looking at improving.”

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