Daniel Ricciardo makes emphatic declaration heading into Austrian Grand Prix

A year ago at the Mexico City Grand Prix, Daniel Ricciardo made a prediction that might have seen Joe Namath smile.

Is the Australian driver about to deliver a repeat performance at the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix?

Following the Friday practice sessions at the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix Ricciardo emphatically declared that he had a “top ten” car heading into qualifying. Ricciardo finished sixth on the timing sheets in practice in Mexico City, ahead of Lewis Hamilton for example, and believed he was primed for a strong performance.

He delivered that performance on Saturday in Mexico City, putting his AlphaTauri on the second row alongside former Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen. Ricciardo finished the job the next day with a seventh-place finish, which was his best result following his shocking mid-season return to the grid.

Speaking Saturday at Red Bull Ring in the aftermath of qualifying for the Austrian Grand Prix, Ricciardo made a similar statement.

“We knew that it would have been hard to get into the points in the Sprint, but it was important to race and learn for tomorrow,” said Ricciardo in Visa Cash App RB F1 Team’s post-qualifying report. “There are some positives from the battles we had this morning and the way the car responded was not too bad.

“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. 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.”

As noted by the driver while he did not advance into Q3, he missed out on the final spot in the third segment of qualifying by just 0.015 seconds, as Esteban Ocon snatched P10 from Ricciardo’s grasp.

Still, the Australian driver remains confident.

That confidence and optimism comes as Ricciardo faces renewed speculation about his future at the team. The driver acknowledged those questions earlier in the week, noting that his “performance” — not his trademark “smile” — will determine his fate.

Backing up his confidence tomorrow will bolster his case.

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