Daniel Ricciardo delivers on his Saturday promise at the Austrian Grand Prix

Daniel Ricciardo’s millions of fans might want him to keep making predictions.

A year ago at the Mexico City Grand Prix the Formula 1 driver declared that his car had top ten potential after the first two practice sessions. Ricciardo proved that over the next two days, qualifying fourth for the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix and then finishing seventh in the main event. It was Ricciardo’s best result after his shocking mid-season return to the grid, and went a long way towards him keeping that seat for the 2024 campaign.

On Saturday at Red Bull Ring Ricciardo just missed out on Q3, finishing 0.015 seconds behind tenth-place finisher Esteban Ocon. That saw Ricciardo’s qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix end in Q2, but the Australian driver remained as optimistic as ever, offering another slight prediction following qualifying.

“Of course, it’s frustrating to miss out on Q3 by just a few milliseconds this afternoon, but at the same time, it’s a more positive one as I think we made some progress since yesterday and it’s something we have to be proud of,” said Ricciardo in Visa Cash App RB F1 Team’s post-qualifying report Saturday. “I think we still need to find something a little bit extra for tomorrow but today’s qualifying put us in a much better position for the race. It’s going to be a longer one with pit stops and [tire] differences, so there’s no reason to believe we can’t be a top ten car tomorrow.”

On Sunday, Ricciardo proved himself right.

Ricciardo started his 250th-career F1 race in P11, but moved up into the top ten, running a clean race to secure P9 and add two massive points to his account on the year. The team used an early pit stop, allowing Ricciardo to undercut some of his competitors on the track, particularly the Alpines of Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

Following the race, the driver talked about the “step forward” on his side of the garage.

“It was a tough race and I think we were a bit more on the [defense], so it took a lot of concentration and effort,” said Ricciardo in the team’s post-race report. “I had a good start on the outside and was looking good, but then I lost a couple of positions as there was no more room and I had to go wide.

“Once we settled after the start of the race, I think we did well; the team did a good job with the strategy to secure the position over the Alpines, and then I feel like I drove a good defence against Fernando [Alonso] and then Pierre [Gasly] in the last stint. We made a nice step from Barcelona, and it’s been a better weekend, so I’m happy to bring home some points. Now we’ll try to make another good step forward for Silverstone and then maybe that puts us in another fight for points.”

The finish comes at a time the Australian driver badly needed a result like this finish. The week of the Australian Grand Prix began with renewed questions about Ricciardo’s future in the sport. Between Dr. Helmut Marko outlining how Red Bull shareholders might want to see a younger driver in the seat — cue the camera pan to Liam Lawson — and noted F1 journalist Joe Saward speculating that Lawson might be in the seat before summer gives way to autumn, to say Ricciardo was under pressure would be an understatement.

The VCARB driver noted that pressure on Thursday, outlining how his “performance” and not his trademark smile would be the reason he kept his seat on the grid.

Sunday, following yet another prediction from him, Ricciardo delivered the kind of performance he needed.

He might want to make some more predictions.

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