Daniel Ricciardo stuns F1 world with epic qualifying drive at Hungarian GP

The Aussie driver outperformed his AlphaTauri teammate in his first qualifying session in seven months.

Daniel Ricciardo.
Daniel Ricciardo produced AlphaTauri's best qualifying result in four races. Image: Getty

Daniel Ricciardo has shown he has absolutely no rust despite being out of an F1 car for so long, upstaging teammate Yuki Tsunoda in qualifying for the Hungary Grand Prix. Driving for AlphaTauri at his first Grand Prix since returning to a full-time seat, Ricciardo qualified in 13th position for Sunday's main race - the team's best qualifying position in four races.

Tellingly, teammate Yuki Tsunoda only qualified 17th fastest. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said of Ricciardo: “He’s done a great job. He’s in a very foreign environment after seven months out of a seat, (so) it was a really solid, mature performance from him today and the team will really benefit from his experience and knowledge. You can see he’s really enjoying it."

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Ricciardo started the season as a reserve driver for Red Bull but was catapulted into a full-time drive for their junior team AlphaTauri when Nyck de Vries was punted. Ricciardo said of his qualifying efforts: "It just felt fun again and that was really what I was looking for.

Daniel Ricciardo, pictured here after advancing to Q2 at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo celebrates after advancing to Q2 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. (Photo by Dan Istitene - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

“I think it was just so important for me coming back and feeling comfortable as soon as possible, but just getting that enjoyment back – I think I felt that last week in the test. It was pretty short notice, but I just felt like it was cool again. Getting in the car in qualifying I was quite relaxed, but knowing that you’re about to go and push the car to the limit on low fuel, just kind of simplifying everything, felt really nice.”

Speaking earlier this week, the Aussie driver said he was feeling refreshed and ready to go. "I probably expected the year off – obviously I haven't got the whole year but I've actually felt like I've got enough time that fuelled me, energised me and I'm definitely ready to go again," said the 34-year-old.

Ricciardo is eyeing Sergio Perez's seat at Red Bull, with the Mexican driver off contract at the end of 2024. Perez only managed to qualify ninth-fastest in Hungary.

Lewis Hamilton pips Max Verstappen for pole position

Lewis Hamilton enjoyed a rare win over Max Verstappen to take a record-extending 104th pole position. The 38-year-old Briton was just 0.003 seconds faster than Red Bull's championship leader for what was also a record ninth pole at the Hungaroring.

Hamilton snared his first pole position since Saudi Arabia in December of 2021, and ended a run of 33 races without starting from the top spot. His pole in Hungary gave him the most by any driver in the history of the sport at one circuit.

"It's been a crazy year and a half, so I've lost my voice from shouting so much," he said afterwards. "I feel so grateful to be up here because the team have worked so hard. We've been pushing so hard over this time to finally get a pole and it just feels like the first time."

Verstappen had been chasing his sixth pole in a row. The Dutch driver said: "I've been struggling the whole weekend to find a good balance. Every session has been up and down."

McLaren's Lando Norris qualified third fastest, with Australian rookie teammate Oscar Piastri fourth and Alfa Romeo's Guanyu Zhou fifth. Ferrari's Charles Leclerc will start sixth, with Valtteri Bottas seventh for Alfa Romeo and Fernando Alonso eighth for Aston Martin.

with agencies

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