A stunning Silverstone tyre test convinced Red Bull that Daniel Ricciardo was ready to step up and replace Nyck de Vries after the Dutchman's stuttering start at AlphaTauri.
The Australian came back after starting 2023 without a seat following a blistering display at the home of the British Grand Prix, where he clocked a time just a few hundredths of a second behind what Max Verstappen - master of the the RB19 rocket ship - was able to manage when he secured pole position for the 2023 British Grand Prix.
The Dutchman's time of 1:26.720 was two-and-a-half tenths clear of Lando Norris, who joined him on the front row for the race, but Ricciardo was much closer - albeit on a different day and with different track conditions.
Following his superb test, Ricciardo was back in a race seat for the Hungarian Grand Prix but he reveals how he had to make sure his head was in the right place with his F1 future at stake.
How was Ricciardo's mindset during the Silverstone run?
The Australian was bluntly honest when speaking to the Beyond The Grid podcast about how he felt when handed the opportunity last summer.
"I was certainly a little bit nervous, but ultimately I was excited," Ricciardo said. "I think some of the nerves were because, by July, I was at a point where I really had my confidence back, and I really believed I could do a great test.
"I had a little bit of nerves knowing deep down I could do it. 'It's up to you now, this is in your hands. Honestly, your future could hang on this test.' It was good to feel that pressure again. I wasn't pushing it back. I was embracing it again and all these things that I used to really thrive off, I was getting back."
Ricciardo recovered from early Silverstone setback
The 34-year-old also revealed that he actually spun twice on the first lap of the test – before calmly settling in to the lap.
"I did the first run and actually spun twice," Ricciardo said. "In Turn 4, I had a spin in the very low speed hairpin, just a little bit eager on the throttle, and then I had a spin in Turn 7, I think. Another slow speed again. I did a tiny little loop and got it going, but it wasn't like I was in the gravel or anything. But I was okay with it. I wasn't like, 'Oh man, what are you doing?' I didn't get in my head. I was just like, 'Oh well, makes sense. I haven't driven in seven, eight, nine months, whatever it was.'
"Even the way I brushed it off, I think it was really good for me because it just didn't faze me. Then I got back going and I started to put in some good times. The very first time I went through Turn 1 flat, I thought my helmet was going to fly off my head. You forget how intense it is on your body and how fast these cars are. That was also really cool to feel it again, because it made me really respect it.
"I did the first run with those couple of spins, came back in, so I did maybe eight laps or something, maybe 10. We put some new tyres on. We put FP2 fuel in the car. I'm not going to sugarcoat it, the first timed lap I did was on the money."
Ricciardo also believes his familiarity with the Red Bull chassis proved key in his superb performance at the Northamptonshire track.
"Of course, I was a little rusty to start, but there was elements of the car that felt so familiar that I knew, with a new set of tyres and taking a bit of fuel out of it, what it could do and what it was capable of.
"I'm not going to say it was easy or effortless, but I had a lot of confidence that it could do what I thought it could. Crossing the line, when I looked at the time, I was like, 'Oh, I don't know if I was expecting to go that quick.' I knew the day had potential to be a really good day, but I'd be lying if I said I was going to do that time on my first lap with new tyres. It gave me a very big smile.
"When I crossed the line, saw that lap time, I had that kind of relief again that I’ve still got this. It had been a long time."
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