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Daniel Ricciardo

How a Mexican hotel room began Ricciardo's Red Bull rebuild

The Australian is back on the grid and will be taking part in this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix with AlphaTauri.

Ricciardo AlphaTauri
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To news overview © AlphaTauri

Over the course of half a year, Red Bull has managed to transform Daniel Ricciardo from the sullen figure of late 2022 into one rearing to go and eager to return to Formula 1.

Ricciardo's pride had taken an absolute battering as he just could not understand how to drive around the limitations of the McLaren - with corner entry being a particular problem.

But in the seven months after his final race with the Woking-squad, Ricciardo has been kept busy by Red Bull - who threw him a Grand Prix lifeline by bringing him back to the team as a third and reserve driver.

And the whole healing process began for the Australian during last year's Mexico City Grand Prix - where ironically he put in one of his stronger performances with seventh place following a late charge through the pack - as Christian Horner explains.

The Mexico hotel room

"It all kicked off in a hotel room in Mexico last year, I had a meeting with Daniel, and it was clear that his options for this year were going to be a bit limited and he just looked pretty broken," Horner told the F1 Nation podcast.

"I said, well, why doesn't he come back to Red Bull for 12 months, out of the car predominantly, help us with simulation work, a bit of tyre testing and just come back to the fold and refine his passion for the sport because it is clear he wasn't enjoying things.

"To be honest, I didn't really recognise Daniel over the last couple of years that we've grown so used to, so that is where it started.

"He came in and drove the simulator a couple of days after Abu Dhabi and it was a complete disaster.

"He picked up every bad habit imaginable, he was working with his previous engineer [Simon Rennie] and gradually, we unpicked it and with each session, he just got better and better as his confidence grew and at that point, he was absolutely on the pace with the race drivers.

"The plan was to always put in him for the Silverstone [tyre tests] and we've kept him very busy with off-track activities and marketing wand the test was extremely impressive.

Pressure relief

The run-out during the Pirelli tyre test cannot be compared to the British Grand Prix days before owing to different track conditions, tyres and weather conditions, although the eight-time Grand Prix winner did set a lap that would have been good enough for the front-row of the

"I was just pleased to see that he was still able to operate at that level," Horner added.

"You cool see the relief in his eyes, the pressure release off his shoulders, that he could still do it, that he wasn't going mad.

"The old Daniel was still there, his long runs were very impressive and the work that he did for Pirelli was absolutely on the money."

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