Daniel Ricciardo: Interest in my F1 return like I won the title

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Daniel Ricciardo joked that the interest around his Formula One return last week was as though he had just won the world championship.

Ricciardo finished 13th for AlphaTauri at the Hungarian Grand Prix, a week after replacing Nyck de Vries.

The eight-time race winner, who remains one of F1's most popular figures, sat out the start of the season as Red Bull's third driver following a difficult two years at McLaren.

His return was one of the headline bits of news leading into the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 23 and was kicked off with a packed media session at Red Bull's hospitality.

One week on, the Australian's media session was still busy.

"I thought today would've been a lot smaller, I thought you would've forgotten about me already," Ricciardo joked on Thursday.

"I definitely made a point to enjoy it all. The media day, there was a lot. I think I joked it was like I won a world championship there was so much interest. But you kind of just have to soak it all up and enjoy it."

On paper, Ricciardo finished the same position he qualified, but on lap one he tumbled to the bottom of the order after being hit from behind by Zhou Guanyu.

From that point Ricciardo dictated his strategy during the race, pitting his car out of sequence to get out of traffic and then finishing a long stint on one set of tyres.

In both qualifying and the race he outperformed teammate Yuki Tsunoda which is likely to be the measuring stick Red Bull uses to assess his performances this year.

"I know the sport well enough not to assume every time now I'm going to be quicker. I know there is still going to be more for me to learn," Ricciardo added.

Looking back at his return weekend, Ricciardo was happy with how it all went.

"I think the weekend as a whole went well, on Monday I was pretty knackered as well. I was very low-key, I just reflected on it, yes I was happy with my performance, but I was happy about the way I was going racing again.

"Obviously I'm very results-driven, but I felt like I had done everything I needed to. In the end, whatever you call it, a bit of bad luck at Turn 1 or whatever, it meant 13th. But I was still happy with everything that I put into the weekend.

"The support I got from the team, that's also an unknown, how they're going to react and respond to a new driver. A week ago they didn't know I was going to be driving the car. Also the spotlight is on the team. I think everyone handled it well."